Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

3-D: Coming to a Theater Near You (at a Glacial Pace)

A billion dollar investment in digital technologies, struck between a handful of Hollywood studios and a consortium of big theater chains, got little notice earlier this week.

Under terms of the deal, the entertainment companies agreed to help defray the costs of rolling out more advanced digital technologies in 20,000 theaters, which will eventually lead to being able to see more movies using technologies like 3-D.

Even though there will be about two dozen 3-D movies released in the next few years–think Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers in concert popping out of screens–a very small number of theaters across the U.S. can handle the advanced technology 3-D requires.

Why? Well, it apparently costs about $70,000 to upgrade a screen. While studios are only paying a small fraction of that cost, one hopes they understand that upgrading theater facilities will be increasingly important in the years ahead.

Because while the gimmick of getting audiences to wear polarized lenses–yes, you still need them–3-D alone is probably not what will prompt most people to up their movie theater attendance (although 3-D movies do attract more people and command much higher prices).

But, even as digital technologies have exploded everywhere, the theater experience has changed in a negligible way over time.

While questions swirl around whether such upgrades pay off, there is no question it will be hard to know without some effort on behalf of the entertainment industry.

One might imagine a much more immersive theater experience or new ideas from filmmakers–I am not creative enough to come up with any good ones–to amplify a movie.

So we’ll just have to wait for Hollywood to come up with something–well beyond Miley Cyrus or Nick Jonas jumping right into the seats.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik