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Friday, November 18, 2005

Another Disney 3-D flick on the way; ILM retrospective

Disney will release its next computer-generated animated film, "Meet the Robinsons," in 3-D following on the success of "Chicken Little," Reuters reports. (The 3-D version of that movie has been making more than twice as much money per theater as the 2-D version.)

Here's the especially interesting bit from the story: Disney expects there to be lots of digital cinemas capable of playing its next 3-D movie - between 750 to 1000, compared to less than 100 today - by next December, when "Robinsons" is released.

Variety also has the story.

Industrial Light + Magic helped create the 3-D version of "Chicken Little," and that company is celebrating its 30th year in business. There's a package of stories from the Hollywood Reporter marking the occasion. Paula Parisi writes:

    Would the digital revolution have occurred had ILM not been born? Surely, the answer is yes: Other firms were dabbling in computer-generated imaging at the time. By the early 1980s, Pacific Data Images, Kleiser/Walczak Construction Co. and R/Greenberg had broken ground in the making of commercials, and one of those companies inevitably would have migrated its magic to film.

    The question, though, is when would that have taken place, and how quickly? Without the drive of a director possessed, such changes tend to languish -- merely ideas waiting to happen. [George] Lucas dropped the dime.

    In 1975, Lucas wasn't out to change the world.

    "I basically just wanted to make a movie," he says. [That movie, of course, was `Star Wars.'] "But in order to make the movie, I knew I had to build a company because there wasn't anybody out there at the time who could do the kind of special effects I wanted."

The package also has an appreciation of ILM by James Cameron. He writes:

    " an adult, that jaw-dropping, amazed sense of wonder had been missing until I saw `Star Wars' in a packed movie theater in 1977. The kineticism of the film was what struck me the most -- a futuristic, highly technical vision of space that was incredibly dynamic. The world had never seen anything like it."

In a Q&A with Lucas, Parisi asks him whether he thinks theaters will disappear in a world where everything is available as video-on-demand. Lucas answers:

    I don't think the theatrical exhibition business will go away because I think people will always want to go to the movies, just as they go to the opera, they go to the ballet, and they go to football games. Football is a perfect example, where you can stay at home and watch it in the comfort of your own home and see a much better presentation, but people still sit out in the cold and cheer on (their teams) ... and you can't see anything because it's all distant. And now they have giant screens so you can watch it on television right there -- but they still fill up 100,000-seat (stadiums). We'll end up with fewer theaters with bigger screens and better presentations, and the theater owners will work very hard to make the whole thing an event.