It’s a Men in Black Showdown for Sony and Cinemas

Sony Pictures is in a showdown with theater operators over who will foot the bill for 3-D glasses less than one week before the studio’s big Men in Black 3 premiere.

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The studio, owned by Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) is attempting to resolve the dispute over 3-D showings of the film prior to its release on May 25. In September, Sony vowed to stop paying for the glasses starting with Men in Black 3. The existing arrangement required major cinemas to pay 50 cents per ticket to RealD Inc. (NYSE:RLD), a technology supplier, while studios purchased glasses at a price of 40 cents a pair.

Sony now wants cinemas to pay the full cost for 3-D experiences. Major chains, including Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE:RGC) and Cinemark Holdings Inc. (NYSE:CNK) have said that they have no intention of conceding to the new demands.

The penny-pinching at studios is largely a result of decreased profits as more people opt to watch movies outside of the theater. Studios are now attempting to decrease a movie’s stay inĀ theatersĀ in order to maximize sales on the home-video market. But, for cinemas, absorbing the total cost of 3-D glasses would eat into the profits they glean from higher priced 3-D tickets.

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