Hey, watch where you’re pointing that sword, buddy!
You better duck, because BEOWULF is comin’ at ya in 3D. The Hollywood Reporter has an article on the growing interest in 3D exhibition of movies. 3D has had a couple of cycles of interest, first in the early 1950s, then again in the early 1980s, but thanks to advances in digital technology, this time it may be more than a fad:
“Exhibitors are more likely to do a digital install right now for movies like ‘Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas’ or ‘Beowulf’ or any of the other announced product because they can have these blend into the deals that will be brought into the marketplace by DCIP,” Viane explained.
With “Nightmare” and “Beowulf” slated for release this fall, it is expected that there will be roughly 1,000 3-D-ready digital theaters and a total of 4,000 digital cinema screens, representing 10% of the domestic market by year’s end. “By the end of next year, I would think you will be at 25%,” Viane said. “I think DCIP will really determine how quickly the tipping point comes. But the end of next year we could be at 60%. That would not shock me at all.”
Katzenberg’s benchmark is the March 27, 2009, the release date for “Monsters vs. Aliens,” DreamWorks Animation’s first 3-D feature. “We need 6,000 (3-D-equipped) screens by March 27, 2009,” he said. “That’s the thing that I am most anxious about. It’s a tremendous opportunity for exhibitors. Exhibition will be able to get a meaningful premium for their 3-D experience. When we release one of our PG titles, we are in the 7,500-8,000 screen range. I’d like to see three-quarters of those be equipped with 3-D by 2009.”
Although the Reporter article does not address the issue specifically, high-quality 3D exhibition is seen as one way to get audiences away from their home entertainment and back into theatres. For example, NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, which was shot in standard two-dimensional stop-motion, was re-released last year with a digital 3D upgrade, grossing $8.7-million – not bad for a movie over a decade old, that is available on VHS, laserdisc, and DVD.