3D movie rip-off: Nu Metro's cheeky new "pay extra" policy

When it comes to movie-going, these days nothing seems to get as much bad press as 3D.

Typically the negativity is directed at film studios who rush 3D conversions of films shot in traditional 2D so that they can charge the higher prices audiences have come to associate with the movie format flavour of the moment. After the mediocre multi-dimension treatments given to Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, where the 3D was as jarring and unsubtle as if you were looking at the screen through a View-Master, many people - myself included - swore to never watch 3D conversions again. The film has to be specifically designed for 3D from the outset - such as Avatar or Coraline - to justify paying inflated 3D prices... which, in South Africa, are typically double the cost of a normal movie ticket.

Now is looks like cinema chains and distributors are getting in on the 3D rip-off action. As I discovered on Friday night, Nu Metro cinemas across South Africa will now be charging an additional R5 fee for every pair of 3D glasses. This is ON TOP of the normal R60 3D ticket price - or R45 if you take advantage of the Clicks ClubCard discount, Monday to Friday. Nu Metro's "environmentally friendly" new policy kicked off on Friday, 18 June, and you can read more about it, in the company's own words, on Nu Metro's website, right here.

Frankly, I think this move on Nu Metros' part is bloody cheeky... akin to some of the chain's moviehouses charging you extra for a second salt sachet to sprinkle on your popcorn. Now I can understand the environmental benefit of reusing the 3D glasses, but I fail to see why that responsibility should be mine. It's worth noting that up until 18 June - when the new measures were initiated - the cinemas asked for the glasses to be returned after screenings. Presumably Nu Metro either straight recycled the RealD 3D glasses, or dipped them in disinfectant before repackaging them in plastic sleeves for future audiences.

And here I was thinking that the extra money I paid for my 3D ticket was predominantly for the use of the glasses, and their maintenance. I guess I was wrong.

What the new "Buy your glasses" policy looks suspiciously like is just an excuse to squeeze more money out of cinema goers. It's like having to pay extra for plastic bags when shopping. Both measures are designed to encourage reuse - which is admirable - but let's face it, impromptu decisions to watch a movie, just like popping into the supermarket, happen a lot. Just like you forget to throw shopping bags into the back of your car every time you go out, it's unlikely that you will be walking around with your 3D glasses in your handbag or back pocket all the time. Nu Metro is cleverly attempting to cash in on your forgetfulness. A family of 4 watching a 3D movie? That's an extra R20 every time.

It's also worth noting at this point that Nu Metro's extra 3D charges came into effect on Friday, 18 June - the same day that the highly anticipated family film Toy Story 3 was released. And out of interest, you will only be able to watch Toy Story in expensive 3D for the next week. The 2D version of the film, with cheaper, conventional ticket pricing, will only begin its cinema run this Friday, 25 June.

So, thank you, Nu Metro. I now have my 3D glasses sitting safely at home. However, I doubt I will be reusing them anytime soon. I will be boycotting your 3D movies because of your new "pay extra" policy.

As a sidenote: I can find no evidence that Nu Metros' rival film distributor Ster Kinekor charges South Africans extra for 3D glasses. Perhaps someone out there who has recently watched a movie at a SK 3D theatre can confirm this?


peerie said…
I think this is a terrible idea and that it's going to end up costing both Nu Metro and the environment much, much more than when the glasses were free.

From what I've seen, at least 9 out of 10 people return their 3D glasses after the movie, but I bet that no one is going to return something they paid R5 for.

So in the end, most 3D glasses will end up in dusty drawers and deep corners of handbags, while Nu Metro will have to buy new ones for every screening instead of just reusing 90% of them.

The cinemas in this country have always been extremely exploitative - these days I'd much rather wait for the DVD.
Brian said…
Ster-Kinekor Theatres' price for 3-D movies is R5 more at R 65,00, so in effect you pay for them and have no choice not to - it's not explicitly stated.

I don't have a problem paying for plastic bags - there should be a penalty for filling up landfills with plastic trash that won't biodegrade, without thinking of any consequences.
MJenks said…
This has been standard-policy for American theatres since the 3D fad hit. Pay extra for the glasses, but it's not as an incentive to keep them. There's still a recycling box right outside the door to the theatre. I even brought an old pair of glasses from home so that I could use them again for something with my kids. When they said I couldn't do that, that I would have to purchase the new glasses, I opted for the 2D version instead, which seemed to really anger the lady working the ticket booth.

I told her that, if it was such a problem, I could go to the theatre down the street instead. This seemed to only anger her further, but it also resulted in me getting my tickets faster.

And then on top of it all, I snuck in my own candy.
Pfangirl said…
Thanks for all the comments, everyone.

Peerie, let's see how long it takes for Nu Metro to start insisting we buy new glasses every time we go to the cinema... like MJenks mentions in his reply.

Brian, thanks you for the clarification about Ster Kinekor's 3D prices and policies.

MJenks, I would have been as disgusted as you. That's just damn rude being forced to buy new glasses when you don't need them because you are doing the responsible thing and reusing them.

As for sneaking in candy, I do that all the time. I can just still stomach the exorbitant prices of the cinema popcorn; the triple mark up on the M&Ms etc. is unacceptable. Proletariats, revolt!
John said…
It is a great idea the 3d movies.
Kit said…
The Ster Kinekors that I've been to don't ask for the glasses back (it's optional for you to hand it back - I had to ask the cleaning lady where to give mine), and I don't think if you take your own you pay less for the ticket.
Pfangirl said…
Thanks for the further clarification, Kit:)

Popular posts from this blog

Is the rebooted Lara Croft gay? Evidence for and against...

Fun for Monday: Your Pop Culture Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Ladies I Love: Part 2 - Rhona Mitra