According to the International 3D Society, the results from a study released this week show 3D movies have generated 33 percent of the total box office in the US since the release of Avatar last December.
Four films out of 127 releases - Clash of the Titans, How to Train Your Dragon, Alice in Wonderland, and Avatar - were responsible for generating $1.2 billion in ticket sales.
The Society by Exhibitor Relations reports that 3D films have been No. 1 at the box office 10 out of 14 weeks in 2010. In 2009, 3D sales boosted overall ticket revenue 8 percent, bringing global ticket sales to almost $30 billion - the highest yet. So far in 2010, the 3D format has created a box office bonanza with movie ticket sales increasing by 10 to 29 percent compared to the same months in 2009, which have been boosted by the higher price of 3D tickets.
A shot in the arm for the motion picture industry during a recession, 3D turns theatrical releases into must-see experiences. Replicating the 3D experience on television screens is not yet possible. Though 3D televisions will becoming available and it will be the focus of the upcoming National Association of Broadcasters annual conference.
The success of the 3D format, which immerses the audience visually, is a perfect fit for epics tales, cartoon action heroes and action-adventure spectacles - escapist genres that are growing in popularity with film studios.
Hollywood waited cautiously to see if audiences would view 3D as a gimmick or a trend. After Avatar made more than 70 percent of its revenue from 3D screens, the studios are now jumping onboard, even converting Clash of the Titans from 2D to 3D after it was shot.
The number of 3D screens doubled in 2009, but currently there are only approximately 4,000 theaters equipped with 3D in the US. A scheduling traffic jam can occur with wide releases opening on 3,500 screens. Across the globe, there were five times more 3D theaters last year than in 2008 and more in 2010.
Though 3D isn't new, with attempts made over the last several decades, particularly in the 1950s, with sci-fi and horror films such as House of Wax and It Came From Outer Space. Due to technological advances and IMAX theaters, the success of 3D ensures it is here to stay.
Some in the industry compare the 3D revolution to the change of silent films into talkies, and predict it will be the standard format at least with certain genres.