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3D Glasses in Movie Theaters and Should You BYO 3D Glasses

September 30th, 2011 · 5 Comments · 3D Movies & Videos


In the last few days there has been a lot of controversy going on around the fact that Sony has announced that it plans to stop subsidizing the 3D glasses in movie theaters starting next year with the release of the movies “Men in Black III” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.” This has angered the National Association of Theater Owners in US that did not accept these news happily, and this was not the first try for big movie studio to stop subsidizing the glasses. It has happened with 20th Century Fox back in 2009, but they have renounced their plan to stop subsidizing the 3D glasses after the same thing happened as is now happening with Sony. Will Sony do the same as 20th Century Fox is still not clear, but it is clear that unless this happens as an industry wide move the movie theater owners won’t be happy at all. But you know, there are already quite a few placer around the world where movie studios are actually not subsidizing the 3D glasses. This can easily be arranged adjusting the profit distribution shares between the movie theater owners and the movie studios, however movie studios like Sony probably just want to move the cost for the 3D glasses to the theater owners. And this all could lead to a 3D ticket price increase or a decrease in the number of 3D movie projections, but it could also lead to a big market increase in one relatively new category of products – personal movie theater 3D glasses…

Buying and bringing your own personal (BYO) 3D glasses with you when going to a 3D movie projection is already something that quite a few people prefer doing, especially considering some of the side effects of the reusable 3D glasses you usually get in the theater. The reusable 3D glasses in movie theaters are usually being washed in between projections in order to have them cleaned, but how many times you’ve seen the lenses of these glasses scratched or smudged with some cleaning fluid or whatever? You usually have to carefully wipe them out yourself before using them, that is unless you carry your own personal pair of 3D glasses that you can take out and enjoy the movie. There are also some movie theaters that hand out what appears to be packed single-use pairs of glasses that get proper treatment before being repacked and distributed for the next projection… this is usually a better and more problem free solution for the audience, but is probably also more expensive. But you know, getting 3D glasses for a 3D movie projection is something you’d normally expect to get as a service from the movie theater, so should you also not expect to get a discount from the ticket when you BYO 3D glasses? This is one of the options and movie theaters could also start offering different brands of compatible 3D glasses with the type of projection system they are using. And this way they can even further increase their profit by offering different types of personal 3D glasses and in different price ranges, so that you will know when you spent some money for a personal pair of glasses you would then get a discount from the 3D movie tickets.

Having movie theaters offering different personal 3D glasses is probably the best way, especially considering the fact that there are multiple 3D projection systems in use that require the viewer to wear a different type of 3D glasses to see the proper image. These are mostly passive solutions – IMAX, RealD and Dolby 3D as well as some active ones such as XpanD, which is probably the most widely used active solution for 3D movie theaters. Obviously active and passive 3D viewing methods are not compatible, although you may be able to make a kind of an universal solution, but even the different passive solutions are not compatible with each other due to the different method of light polarization being used in each. When you look around you will see that pretty much all better looking and especially designer 3D glasses available are compatible with RealD’s projection system only. Sure you could pretty easily also find IMAX or Dolby 3D glasses, but these are usually the same not so practical and not so good looking type of 3D glasses that you get handed out when you enter the respective 3D movie theater. The IMAX 3D glasses shouldn’t be expensive and hard to produce, but most likely IMAX is not giving out license to anyone else to make designer 3D glasses compatible with their solutions, the same could also apply to Dolby 3D, although their glasses should be a bit more expensive and harder to produce due to the way their lenses work. This would of course need to change if the market of personal 3D glasses continues to grow and there is a big potential for that, although the presence of multiple formats makes it harder for the users. Depending on what format the local movie theaters around you use you may need to buy multiple different pairs of 3D glasses and if you go for more expensive designer brands such as Calvin Klein or Oakley it could turn out to be quite an expensive thing to do. And if you don’t go watching 3D movies that often it becomes even less attractive, even though there are a lot of options for personal 3D glasses that don’t cost over $100 USD…

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jaz808 // Oct 1, 2011 at 08:53

    BYO Polarised Glasses has been this way for at least 12 months for us in Australia, or you pay $3-$5 a pair each time you go, so your encouraged to keep them and re-use them

  • 2 josh // Oct 1, 2011 at 10:45

    when are they going to have stereoscopic movie theater screens? or do they already exist? i just watched the imax movie Under The See with 3d vision and it was incredible , i wish that same experience could happen in movie theaters.

  • 3 kingsmeadow // Oct 2, 2011 at 10:03

    here in the Uk you BYO and then keep them for re-use..has been that way from the start

  • 4 Chris // Oct 3, 2011 at 13:01

    Another Brit here. Just to clarify. The glasses I have seen are decent quality, and wrapped RealD branded. It seems to vary from chain to chain (or even cinema to cinema) how this is handled.

    Most cinemas I go to simply have a higher ticket price for 3D movies of a pound or two, and you are given a “complimentary” pair of glasses. I have asked at these cinemas if I can pay less if I bring my own, and they say no. As a result, I always pick up a pair to bring home. They make an attempt to collect glasses at the door (one assumes they are then recycled, but this is not enforced.

    Other cinemas I have been to, the ticket price is not increased, but you buy the glasses, again for 1 or 2 pounds. In these cases, you can go in with your own, and not pay the extra.

  • 5 Carlos h // May 9, 2016 at 08:22

    What type of 3D glasses do I buy so that I can watch the 3D movies at the theater ? I hate the ones the give out very uncomfortable .

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