BEIJING - A big screen, comfortable seats, fellow fans, and three dimensional shoots - for football fans who cannot make it to South Africa, seeing the 2010 FIFA World Cup in 3D in cinemas may be the next best thing.
But Chinese soccer fans could well be a bit disappointed, as only a few cinemas have decided to screen matches, while most others are still hesitant.
So far, only two Beijing cinemas under the Stellar International Cineplex have confirmed live screenings of certain World Cup matches in 3D.
Yuan Xin, vice-president of the company, told Beijing News that despite the risk in business, Stellar would like to explore the new mode.
Insiders told China Daily that CCTV, the exclusive broadcaster of the World Cup in China, will cooperate with China Film Group Corporation's (GFGC) Digital Film Development Company to provide TV signals of 25 matches.
But cinema managers have yet to make up their minds.
Huang Qunfei, general manager of theater chain New Film Association Company, is worried about the costs and visual effect.
"We have to buy broadcasting facilities, which come for about 150,000 yuan each, and whether they can be used later for such screenings is still unknown," he said.
The visual effect of the new broadcasting method is at stake, too.
"The visual effect in sport is extremely important. If the signal stops at the penalty kick, the viewers will kill us."
Experts said that visual effects of 3D film content could be very different in the environment of sports, where fast-moving action could mean blurry images and even induce nausea in viewers.
Kang Xuejun, a senior manager of Broadway Cinemas, said no theater of the cinema chain would screen soccer matches.
"First, most of the matches are late in the night. How many people would go to cinemas at that time?" he said in a telephone interview. "Also, we definitely will forbid alcohol in the cinema, and we know how important it is for fans to drink while watching a game."
According to Kang and Huang, the box office revenue of the matches will go to three beneficiaries - CFGC's Digital Film Company, CCTV and the cinemas. They made brief calculations and found that to break even, tickets need to be priced at least at 150 yuan each, three times that of an average film ticket's price.
According to Ma Wei, an employee at CFGC's Digital Film Company, more than 50 cinemas across the country have applied to screen World Cup matches.
Miao Honglin, a law assistant and football fan in Beijing, still prefers to enjoy the world's most watched tournament the traditional way.
"I would rather stay home or watch the matches in bars with friends," he said. "Football is about exchanging passion, opinion, and screaming. But in a cinema, with all of us wearing 3D glasses, it will be weird. And, there will be no beer there."
But Yu Yang, who works in a telecom company, said he would like to experience watching a match in a cinema.
"If the price isn't too high, I think I will be there," he said. "I have had a good experience watching 3D films in cinemas, and football matches sound more exciting."