12:00 PM EDT, October 29, 2010
3D movies are taking Hollwood by storm with eye-popping effects and in your face realism!
The stunning 3D cinematography in Avatar helped make it the highest-grossing movie of all time. And new 3D blockbusters are hitting theatres almost every week.
Of course, to enjoy the mind-bending special effects, audiences have to wear those goofy 3D glasses. Today's 3D specs have come a long way since the 3D monster movies of old. But we wondered how sanitary those glasses really are?
If you're going to pay $15 to see the latest 3D blockbuster, the least you can expect is to get clean glasses, right? Well we found thats not always the case.
With hidden cameras, we visited theatres across New York City and New Jersey. And after carefully sanitizing our hands, sealed the 3D glasses in plastic and sent them off to an independant lab for testing.
The results were shocking. Not one of the dozen glasses we tested were germ free.
The 3D glasses are supposed to either be sanitized between each use at the theatre or they come sealed in plastic.
But at AMC Loews theatre in Manhattan, a pair of glasses sealed in plastic were far from sanitary. Made by a company called RealD, they tested positive for a fungal organism that can cause ear infections and bacteria found in feces. That's right, fecal contamination!
"It's more than gross, it's dangerous. It could make you sick," said Dr. Kelly Reynolds, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. She was surprised by some of the potentially sickening organisms we found crawling on 3D glasses.
Dr. Reynolds said, "Based on your results, it looks like 3D glasses are a hot spot for germs."
We also found fecal contamination on a pair of Dolby 3D glasses given to us at City Cinemas on Manhattan's upper east side. And that's something Dr. Reynolds says you don't want on your face, especially near your eyes.
In a statement, Dolby said they, "take the health and well being of movie-goers very seriously," and work closely with theatres to train them on how to sanitize its reusable 3D glasses.
And RealD told us they test their glasses to insure they meet standards for cleanliness, and have not had results like ours.
Five other pairs of 3D glasses, including a pair made by IMAX, had a nasty fungus hiding on them which can cause yeast infections, and hair and scalp infections.
Moviegoers loved the 3D shows, but not our results.
"That's so disgusting," said one moviegoer.
"Oh that's awful," said another.
But one little 3D fan wasn't phased by the news.
"Actually, I'm not that surprised because I have noticed they do feel a little bit grubby and grimey a lot of times," said one young boy.
So how do you keep all the creepy crawlies on the screen instead of your face?
Dr. Reynolds says a simple alcohol-based wipe will kill 99% of any harmful germs.
Dr. Reynolds said, "I think that for the price we pay for movies, we should have an expectation that they come at least free of fecal bacteria. That's not what I'm paying for."