Italy Races to Screen Up

With at least 500 3D screens out of a total of roughly 4,000, Italy touts itself as being at the forefront of Europe's 3D revolution. But after initially moving swiftly, for once, Italians exhibitors now find themselves leading the way in confronting what some 3D critics have charged are potential "points of failure" of the new visual technology.

In past months local exhibitors and distributors have been in a tizzy over proposed local 3D-glasses regulations, which they claim would turn Italy into the planet's most 3D-unfriendly territory. Italy's 3D clash stems from an Italo health ministry advisory issued in March, recommending exhibitors to use disposable rather than reusable 3D glasses, for hygenic reasons. The advisory was prompted by 3D complaints filed by local consumer advocacy group Codacons.

Roughly half of Italy's 3D screens utilize reusable 3D glasses, mostly made by Dolby. However, while the Italo 3D glasses snag is still being sorted out and has caused plenty of commotion, it has not put a tangible dent in the country's 3D grosses. Avatar pulled a staggering $88 million in Italy, where admission to a 3D pic carries a ticket price hike of between €1-€3 ($1.33 to $4). Meanwhile, local exhibitors have launched the Italian 3D Awards.

By Nick Vivarelli, Variety