Shrek Forever After proves that not all 3D turns to gold

It almost grossed more in ticket sales than the rest of the top 10 movies this weekend combined, but Shrek Forever After still proved to be a disappointment because it didn’t shatter the charts as strongly as many expected.

In the opening weekend, the 4th installment in Dreamworks’ Shrek franchise grossed $71.2 million in ticket sales. That sounds like a really good number, until you dig deeper.

Shrek the Third earned more than $122 million when it premiered 3 years ago. Sequels historically sell less, of course, but the new Shrek movie is available in both 3D and Imax, causing some tickets to be nearly twice as expensive as other movies in the theater.

Until now, putting a movie on 3D screens has provided an instant cash explosion for movie studios. Even films that slapped on 3D effects as an afterthought, like Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, raked in huge sales because of the premium that moviegoers were willing to pay. That wasn’t quite the case with Shrek.

In an interview with the Financial Times, BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield said that the country may be suffering from 3D fatigue.

“We [BTIG] wonder whether the US consumer is simply telling movie exhibitors that 3D pricing has simply gone too far, too fast for the average movie,” he said. “While consumers may have no issue paying a 3D premium for a movie such as Avatar or Alice in Wonderland , consumers may downgrade to 2D for weaker content such as Shrek.”

Dreamworks stock price was down 10% after Shrek’s opening weekend.