3-D vision doesn't waver

DreamWorks Animation chief predicts 2,500 screens by April

Jeffrey Katzenberg boldly predicted Monday that there will be nearly 2,500 screens ready for 3-D in time for the March 27 release of DreamWorks Animation's "Monsters vs. Aliens."

At the 3-D Entertainment Summit here, DWA's CEO also forecast that there will be 7,500 3-D screens for the summer 2010 release of his company's "Shrek Goes Fourth."

Estimates suggest that the number of 3-D-ready digital-cinema screens now in the domestic market is in the 1,500 range.

But Katzenberg, the ultimate 3-D cheerleader, expressed optimism, once again calling the format an "economic game-changer for movie theaters."

"I expect a $5 premium will be paid for the 3-D experience," he said. "Fifty% of the admissions of 'Bolt' -- which was 3-D on only 1,300 of its 4,000 screens -- is 3-D. The customers have spoken time and time again. If you offer them a premium-quality experience, they will for the most part trade up."

Commenting on "Monsters," Katzenberg suggested that there will be "more than enough screens to give us our investment back of $15 million. We spent $150 million making a movie like this, with a $15 million incremental cost for 3-D."

Digital-cinema installations are required to offer digital 3-D, so challenges like raising d-cinema deployment financing in today's tough economic climate remain.

"Just at the moment when exhibition and distribution got together, negotiated and finally closed deals for virtual print fees, there's no money," Katzenberg said. "I think in the first quarter of next year, certainly by the second quarter, financing will come together for Digital Cinema Integration Partners."

DCIP, the joint venture owned by AMC, Cinemark and Regal, represents about 14,000 screens in North America.
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