A previously unknown type of vending machine started turning up in movie theater lobbies over the weekend. Marchon3D has partnered with Cinemark and UltraStar Cinemas to offer its patented RealD 3D compatible glasses.

The idea is that people will bypass the theater’s plastic loaner glasses and instead buy their own personal, more stylish 3D glasses to watch the movie. Then they can take them home for use with passive 3D televisions, gaming systems and laptops, and even bring them along for the theater’s next 3D feature film.

The RealD glasses in theaters are cleaned and reused, and they’re designed to accommodate every size of head, including when those heads are already wearing prescription glasses. Purchasing individual glasses therefore could be an appealing alternative for germaphobes and the style-conscious, as well as those seeking a more optically refined viewing experience, even though they won’t replace collectible 3D glasses like the round-framed ones at selected screenings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.

Marchon3D stocks the vending machines with its EX3D glasses for children and its clip-ons for use with prescription glasses, as well various style choices in prices starting at $22. The initial placements for the vending machines are in Southern California cities of San Diego and Huntington Beach.

Marchon acquired Microvision Optical’s 3D division in July 2010, at the same time it signed an agreement for its eyewear to be RealD Certified with RealD.