U.S. consumers purchased an estimated 1.75 million Blu-ray Disc 3-D (BD3D) discs at retail during the format's first 12 months on the market, and brought home another 1.7 million units as part of hardware/software bundling deals, according to data from IHS Screen Digest report.
From June 22, 2010 to June 21, 2011, 1.59 million BD3D feature films were sold in the United States. When combined with the format's 161,700 non-feature units, a grand total of 1.75 million BD3D units were sold at retail, according to an IHS analysis of Nielsen VideoScan point-of-sale data. Another 1.7 million BD3D discs were delivered to U.S. consumers through hardware bundling deals during the same period, bringing the total to 3.5 million, IHS estimates.
"Consumers are finding that 3-D is one of the most fun concepts in home entertainment since color television, providing true three-dimensional pictures right in their living room," said Jan Saxton, senior analyst, film entertainment, for IHS. "Once they have 3-D in the home, they love it and are hungry for content, snapping up BD3D movies as soon as they become available. Sales reached this high level despite the fact that the number of BD3D titles on the market was relatively small compared to non-3-D Blu-ray."
A total of 93 BD3D titles were expected for release in the United States during 2010 and 2011, the first two calendar years of the format's availability. In comparison, 448 Blu-ray titles were released during that format's first two years in the market.
The figure below presents a comparison of the number of new video releases during each of the first two years of availability for BD3D and Blu-ray. Even with the format's limited number of titles, a total of 507,293 BD3D discs were sold in 2010. This compares favorably to the 363,000 non-3-D Blu-ray units sold in that format's launch year of 2006.
The major reason for the limited number of BD3D titles on the market is the relatively small quantity of 3-D titles released theatrically in previous years. However, IHS believes that this is rapidly changing. There were 23 theatrical 3-D releases in 2010, and virtually all the big tentpole movies this year are being given the 3-D treatment, which will allow the release of more 3-D titles in 2011 and the following years. Additionally, studios are already converting some of their major hits from the past 30 years for theatrical re-release in 3-D, like "Star Wars" and "Titanic," with video releases sure to follow.
The growing number of titles - combined with the large installed base of BD3D-capable players as well as the rising sales of 3-D-capable televisions - will cause sales to accelerate in the second half of this year, the research firm says.
The first film to hit retail on BD3D was "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," released in the United States by Sony on June 22, 2010. Based on analysis of point-of-sale data from Nielsen's VideoScan service, IHS estimates the title sold close to 50,000 units in its first year at retail. That may seem modest, but "Cloudy" was also bundled with Sony 3-D TVs and Sony 3-D starter kits, which consist of extra pairs of the 3-D glasses necessary for each 3-D viewer - so the total number of units 'sold' was boosted significantly by the Sony bundles.
Like Sony, other studios have formed partnerships with 3-D hardware manufacturers to get their 3-D titles into early-adopting homes.
Probably the most highly anticipated 3-D film of all, "Avatar," is still available only through Fox's exclusive bundling deals with Panasonic, or on resale sites like eBay and Amazon Marketplace.