Public pressure may lead to 3D theatre in city

Hoyts Cinemas Ltd is considering adding another dimension to Dunedin's movie-going landscape.

By March, if all goes well, Dunedin audiences could be watching movies in 3D, beginning with a new 3D version of Alice in Wonderland.

Stung by the public reaction after an Otago Daily Times story two weeks ago pointed out movie theatre owners in Dunedin had no plans for a 3D theatre, staff at Hoyts in Dunedin began discussing whether it might be possible.

Hoyts Dunedin location manager Darryl McLeod said the article had attracted "a lot of negative response" from people who considered 3D should be available.

"A lot of people obviously are really looking forward to 3D. And, the fact that Hokitika have got it didn't help us."

Mr McLeod said Hoyts was "never planning on not bringing 3D" to Dunedin.

"It was just a matter of when it was actually going to be viable because up until Avatar it's been a fad. Nobody knew whether it was going to carry on . . ."

To gauge public support, Hoyts has launched a Facebook site with the aim of getting 15,000 members.

"We've got together and said: `If we can get that number of sign-offs . . . we will commit to it and we will install 3D'."

The site, started on Friday night, had attracted 1835 messages by late yesterday afternoon.

Mr McLeod suggested even if the target was not met, a decision could be made to go ahead anyway.

"We've had such a strong response to it already. You never know. We may be able to convince the powers-that-be that it is required and get it in quicker."

Mr McLeod said it would cost up to $250,000 to convert one of its six Octagon theatres.

A new silver screen would have to be imported, as well as a digital projector and server capable of running 114 frames per second.

"It's totally different to the old green and blue 3D. It is much, much more advanced technology."

Hoyts has two 3D theatres, in Auckland and Christchurch, which use the RealD system that requires audiences to wear polarised glasses.

Dunedin's theatre would use the same system.

Mr McLeod described a March 3D screening of Alice in Wonderland as "an optimistic target".

"We would clearly love to get that one because it looks like a stunning film. Obviously, we're movie lovers too and we want to see the best."

He described Avatar in 3D as "something to behold".

"It's not a gimmicky 3D. It's all about depth of field rather than things poking you in the eye."

Mr McLeod said the 3D system would be installed in a theatre with 125 seats allowing for a screen of "almost perfect size".

"We've heard of places around the world that have got big, big screens and it just doesn't work. The field of vision is just too wide for it to work properly."

Mr McLeod said if Dunedin got 3D, the company's other cinemas would have to follow suit.

"It's a huge investment and it really is just a flip of the coin whether it works or not."

But, he said, if it was easy to provide 3D everyone would be doing it.

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