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3-D films hook viewers to the screen

For Kenyans who love cinema, three-dimensional (3-D) movies occupy a special place in their hearts.

3-D movies improve the experience of watching films by adding an illusion of depth to proceedings on the screen, thereby increasing viewers’ immersion.

Due to the popularity of these films, theatre companies charge premium rates on cinema tickets, particularly for new releases.

As a result, companies that have embraced the technology have increased their profit margins.

SHUT DOWN

Customer preference for 3-D movies has led to a reduction of movie screens in Nairobi, according to Mr Elijah Odhiambo, an entertainment writer.

“Customers prefer watching new releases in 3-D. Companies unable to make the investment in screens that can show 3-D have, in some cases, had to shut down due to reduced number of customers,” Mr Odhiambo says.

Ms Maureen Nyanjong, who owns a content distribution company, says the cost of setting up a 3-D cinema is between Sh20 million and Sh100 million, depending on the technology used.

“There are several types of screens and projectors used in creating 3-D images and thus the costs of setting up a 3-D theatre may vary.”

The high costs, coupled with some cinema chains’ exclusive distribution agreements with overseas studios, have resulted in a highly competitive cinema scene that has forced out several players. Nu Metro and Silverbird closed shop, citing a tough operating environment.

However, the industry is ready for growth, according to Mr Odhiambo.

UNDER-SERVED

“Kenya is under-served by the number of screens available, considering its wealth,” he says. “The capital can comfortably support more investment in the sector.”

Four movie theatres are currently operating in Nairobi, but not all screens have 3-D projectors. Nyali Cinemax in Mombasa was the first theatre in Kenya to mount a 3-D screen.

Kenya Cinema, which was run by Fox Entertainment Group, closed after it went out of business. It is expected to open soon, fitted with at least one 3-D screen.

The Westgate Shopping Mall had six movie screens before it was closed following the attack last year by Al-Shabaab militants.

But will the 3-D movie business survive piracy and the onslaught of new technologies like Multichoice’s Home Box Office that allows subscribers to rent the latest blockbusters for home viewing?

It will, Mr Odhiambo says.

“3-D adds a level of experience most Kenyans are unable to get at home. People who go to cinemas do so because they enjoy the ambience and the experience of watching movies in theatres filled with other cinema goers.”