Optometrists say as many as one in four viewers have problems watching 3-D movies and TV, either because 3-D causes tiresome eyestrain or because the viewer has problems perceiving depth in real life. In the worst cases, 3-D makes people queasy, leaves them dizzy or gives them headaches.
Researchers have begun developing more lifelike 3-D displays that might address the problems, but they're years or even decades from being available to the masses.
That isn't deterring the entertainment industry, which is aware of the problem, yet charging ahead with plans to create more movies and TV shows in 3-D. Jeff Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc., calls 3-D "the greatest innovation that's happened for the movie theaters and for moviegoers since color."
Theater owners including AMC Entertainment Inc. and TV makers such as Panasonic Corp. are spending more than $1 billion to upgrade theaters and TVs for 3-D. A handful of satellite and cable channels carry 3-D programming; ESPN just announced its 3-D network will begin broadcasting 24 hours a day next month.
Yet there are signs that consumers may not be as excited about 3-D as the entertainment and electronics industries are.
Last year, people were willing to pay an additional $3 or more per ticket for blockbuster 3-D movies such as Avatar and Toy Story 3. But that didn't help the overall box office take. People spent $10.6 billion on movie tickets last year, down slightly from the year before. People went to the theater less but spent more.
Last year, 3-D TV sets were available in the U.S. for the first time, but shipments came in below forecasts, at just under 1.6 million for North America, according to DisplaySearch. Nevertheless, TV makers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Panasonic are doubling down on 3-D and introduced more 3-D-capable models this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.(Page 2 of 2)
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