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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who's Frustrated Now? Katzenberg.

In the early 2000s, it was director George Lucas who was persistently peeved at how slow theater-owners were to install digital cinema equipment; he wanted more screens to show 'Attack of the Clones' and 'Revenge of the Sith.' ('Phantom Menace' was shown on just four digital screens as a test, in 1999.)

Now, in the latter part of the decade, it's DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg who is frustrated at how slow big multiplex operators have been to install 3-D digital projection gear. From Variety:

    "In the last 30 days, things have not progressed as well as I had hoped, expected and, quite frankly, been committed to, by all the parties involved," Katzenberg said in response to an analyst's question. "It's ongoing as we speak literally now, but in terms of getting the big three (exhibitors: Regal, Cinemark and AMC) on board and actively moving forward, I feel as though things have dragged along, and it's been pretty disappointing."

    Tensions are simmering on both sides of the issue, as the major studios and the top three circuits try to hammer out the size of the "virtual print fee" that studios will pay to distribute their pics digitally, which would be used to defray the costs of digital projector installations.

Katzenberg is hoping there will be 5000 3-D capable screens in the US by next March, when DWA will release 'Monsters vs. Aliens.'

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  • Hahahaha. I love it . All the biggies spending their wads on these big budget blockbusters with no blocks to bust.

    Hopefully, someone on the business end of things will learn that digital distribution makes low budget with a small dedicated theatrical audience more viable and actually makes big budget films ("kill everyone else's movie") less viable.

    By Blogger GBH, at 1:21 PM  

  • If the exhibitors are smart - which I'm sure the major chains are - they recognize this as their last bit of leverage against the studios. I'm suprised the studios initiated a large slate of 3D films without this infrastrcuture already in place.

    Financing of Digital Cinema/3D is still basically one big hand waving gesture - it's still not at all known how to establish a viabile financing model. Given the current state of the credit markets, coming up with the serveral $100's millions of dollars to push through a major conversion through Virtual Print Fee's is still in doubt. I think all eyes are on AccessIT to see if they can get themselves out of a pretty bad financial pickle with just 3k screens financed. They are far from cash-flow positive on operations and haven't even started paying down the principle amount on the $200MM in loans they have.

    For once, it appears as though Hollywood needs the cinema exhibitors after years of a otherwise lopsided relationship.

    I think Hollywood will have to cough up the dough in the end here in terms of more generous VPF fees.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:46 AM  

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