Prediction: No. 1 for 3-D release

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Better visuals. Smoother projection. Bigger demand for a unique theater experience. None of these reasons is why a 3-D-only release will open at No. 1 for the first time in 2008. For that we can thank Miley Cyrus, also known as Hannah Montana, star of the Disney Channel show whose fan club is so devoted that some members sued when they didn't get concert tickets.

Disney has shrewdly scheduled "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" for a one-week-only run, which should position it as an "event" for the tween set. And the Feb. 1 release date pits the film against only Lionsgate's "The Eye," New Line's "Over My Dead Body," Freestyle Releasing's "Postal" and Paramount's "Strange Wilderness" -- not blockbuster competition.

The limited number of digital 3-D-ready auditoriums is a challenge for "Hannah," but Disney expects more than 600 screens to play the 3-D release domestically, enough to parlay a stratospheric per-screen average into a win on the traditionally soft Super Bowl weekend. Regal Entertainment reports that ticket sales already are strong.

A big bow for "Hannah" could serve as a tipping point for 3-D releases. Last month, "Beowulf's" 650 3-D screens contributed significantly to the film's $27.5 million opening weekend. With more than 4,000 3-D-ready systems expected to be up and running by mid-2009, it's only a matter of time before blockbusters routinely open in as many 3-D theaters as traditional 2-D.







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