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Why are so many movies in 3-D?


3-D movie ticket sales are dwindling in the U.S., but that doesn't mean the business is any less lucrative.
3-D movie ticket sales are dwindling in the U.S., but that doesn't mean the business is any less lucrative.
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It seems that every movie on the marquee these days comes in multiple formats, from 3-D to IMAX to enhanced digital showings. Just 10 years ago, 3-D movies were something of a novelty -- the Motion Picture Association of America reported just two major 3-D releases out of nearly 500 films released in 2004. Over the next few years, 3-D films remained the exception, not the norm, with six 3-D films out in 2007 and eight released in 2008 [source: MPAA]. Then came "Avatar" in 2009, which shattered box office records and became the highest grossing film of all time, taking in well over $2 billion at box offices across the globe.

Hoping to recapture some of that "Avatar" box office magic, studios latched on to the 3-D format, with 26 3-D films making their way to theaters in 2010 and a whopping 45 competing for box office dollars in 2013 [source: MPAA].

Why the sudden explosion of 3-D films post-"Avatar"? After all, the technology has been around -- albeit in limited form -- since the 1950s. Forget all the talk about a richer, more exciting moviegoing experience: 3-D movies are all about the benjamins, and the studios work to convince you to part with more of your hard-earned money. Wonder how 3-D provides a boost at the box office? Read on to find out.