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Why not let fashion frame debate over who pays for 3-D glasses?

September 29, 2011 | 10:57 am

An article in Thursday's Times highlighting the spat between movie studios and theaters over who should foot the bill for 3-D glasses concludes that it could result in viewers having to pay for their own eyewear. 

According to the piece by Ben Fritz and Rebecca Keegan, although it is common practice in the U.S. for movie studios to subsidize the average 45 cents a ticket it costs to hand out (and then collect) the glasses, in Europe they're sold as a separate concession item.

Which is why European luxury labels like Gucci and Armani Exchange were quick to offer stylish versions (for $225 and $58, respectively), which hit retail in December 2010. (We'd also heard secondhand about several styles of Calvin Klein-branded 3-D specs, but they don't appear on the website.) 

With the promise of more 3-D movies in more theaters -- and living rooms -- it's a model that makes fiscal and fashion sense. First of all, even the best loaner glasses feel like a pair of pincers on the temples after about a half an hour, and it's a good thing the glasses are worn in a dark theater since they're about as stylish-looking as the eye grill that LeVar Burton's character wears in "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

My guess is that label-conscious moviegoers would be willing to shell out their own money to buy a permanent pair. Another alternative would be to let fashion designers pay the cost on a film-by-film basis to build brand awareness or leverage product-placement synergies. Tom Ford frames could promote a 3-D Bond flick in which 007 wears a TF tuxedo, for example, or a version in Ray-Ban Wayfarer frames to promote a 3-D re-release of "Risky Business."

SoCal eyewear maker Oakley did a version of that, offering a limited-edition $150 "Tron"-themed pair of 3-D glasses timed to coincide with the release of the Disney movie 

And there's a huge untapped marketing opportunity in the novelty arena as well -- just imagine a theater full of patrons watching a slapstick comedy while wearing 3-D Groucho Marx glasses. 


Gucci, Armani Exchange debut stylish 3-D glasses

Currently Coveting: Barton Perreira's retro-inspired shades

A deluxe 'Tron' pop-up store to debut at Royal/T later this month

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo (left): Armani Exchange introduced its 3-D eyewear frames in December. Credit: Armani Exchange

Photo (right): Gucci's 3-D eyewear frames debuted in December too. Credit: Gucci