Live 3-D events get sneak peek

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ORLANDO -- Live music and sports events could be coming to a movie theater near you as early as the summer -- and in 3-D, no less.

At ShowEast on Wednesday, Real D, which specializes in digital 3-D presentations, staged the first event ever projected in real time onscreen in 3-D. It also unveiled plans to bring its technology for projected films in 3-D to 500 screens for the March release of Walt Disney Pictures' "Meet the Robinsons."

Exhibitors at the AMC Pleasure Island Theatre here got a preview of the live 3-D presentations to come. A Blue Man Group-style percussion band played outside, captured by two Sony Cinealta 950 digital cameras, and the performance was projected via coaxial cable to an auditorium in the multiplex. Steve Schklair of 3ality Digital Systems (newly renamed from Cobalt Entertainment) set up the projection.

Before that demonstration, audiences viewed clips from Walt Disney Pictures' digital 3-D/Real D presentation of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas," which scored big at the boxoffice this past weekend. Real D chairman Michael Lewis said "Nightmare's" success was proof that 3-D is a boxoffice draw. "People are charging $2-$3 more on tickets, and the audience isn't pushing back," he said.

Real D CEO Joshua Greer said a major 3-D concert event could appear on screens as early as the summer. Talks also are under way for live 3-D projection of a sports event, including the NCAA men's basketball Final Four, Super Bowl or NASCAR championships.

For the November 2007 release of Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf," starring Angelina Jolie, Real D said it will have outfitted 1,000 screens so that they can exhibit the movie in 3-D. In fact, Greer said, that figure could be reached as early as August.

As for adding concerts and sports events to the 3-D mix, Real D's Lewis said the challenge wasn't technological but rather a question of selling the idea to promoters and league owners.

"The biggest challenges are the rights issues -- making the sports leagues understand that the theater base audience for these events is not going to drag people away from their televisions," he said. "It's like early Hollywood, where no one feels certain about exactly what's going to happen."

The day's activities also included an event Wednesday night at the House of Blues at which director McG picked up a ShowEast Award of Excellence in Filmmaking.

"I'm humbled and honored to receive an award from such an astute group of filmmakers -- the theater owners," McG said after the ceremony. The "Charlie's Angels" director was at ShowEast to support his film, "We Are Marshall." The upcoming Warner Bros. Pictures release stars Matthew McConaughey, who plays a Marshall University football coach who must prepare his team for a new season after a 1970 plane crash killed 75 people, including 37 players and 12 coaches and university staff members. The film had screened earlier in the evening.

"I will live or die by this film," the director said. "I tried to bring no Hollywood to it, just make it as real as possible, to shoot it in a restrained manner 180 degrees from what I've been associated with. I wanted to get more in touch with who I am and the films I adore, like 'The Deer Hunter' and 'Apocalypse Now'."

After the McG ceremony, exhibitors also took in another upcoming film inspired by real-life events, the Weinstein Co.'s "Bobby," Emilio Estevez's re-creation of the day Sen. Robert Kennedy, was assassinated. The MGM release is scheduled to bow Nov. 17.

Earlier in the day, at an afternoon luncheon at the Orlando World Center Marriott, seven film execs were inducted into the ShowEast Hall of Fame. The class of 2006 includes Paramount Pictures' Royce Brimage, Sony Pictures Releasing's Joe Kennedy, Wehrenberg Theatres' Ronald B. Krueger, Carmike Cinemas' Tony Rhead and former Hollywood Reporter editor-in-chief and publisher Robert J. Dowling, who was unable to attend the ceremony. Two posthumous awards were given to F&F Management's Larry Hanson and Hollywood Theatres' Hal McClure.
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