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Friday, March 20, 2009

What's Next for 3-D Cinema

Two big stories today on the new wave of 3-D releases...

I like the one in USA Today best. But there's also this Wall Street Journal piece.

A few good data points from the USA Today piece:

    Of North America's nearly 40,000 screens, about 2,000 will be 3-D capable in time for Monsters— thousands less than [DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey] Katzenberg predicted last year.

    That means fewer chances to charge an extra $3 or more a ticket to see the atomic-age-inspired romp in all its extra-dimensional cheesiness — a premium that audiences have been glad to pay in the past for such movies as 'The Polar Express' and 'Journey to the Center of the Earth.' 'Monsters vs. Aliens' also will be available in standard 2-D on multiple screens at about 1,400 locations.

    Katzenberg thinks that is enough to cover the $15 million or so the process adds to a film's budget as well as make a profit, especially given the recent surge in theater attendance. But he seems less concerned about whether 'Monsters,' budgeted at an estimated $165 million, conquers the box office than he is about 3-D taking over the planet.

    Almost every movie would benefit from being 3-D, the way nearly every movie benefits from being in color," he says, though the format has been best served by animation so far. "When James Cameron comes forward with 'Avatar,' it will mark a whole new era of live-action films. When other filmmakers see what he has done, they will want to use it."

The WSJ piece misses the point that eventually, with 3-D displays in the home, that will create a nice "aftermarket" for all these 3-D movies the studios are making.

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