U.K. distributors assess effect of World Cup

3D releases to lead the effort to compete with soccer

LONDON -- Distributors are pinning their hopes on a handful of 3D formatted wide release movies including "Toy Story 3," "Shrek Forever After," and "Space Chimps 2" alongside titles such as "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" and "Sex and the City 2" to lure audiences away from the summer's World Cup soccer tournament.

Trade organization The Film Distributors' Association, whose 22 company strong membership includes all the studio's overseas releasing arms, played up the summer release slate Wednesday, while joshing about the impact of the soccer event. The World Cup includes teams from England and the U.S.A. and historically draws eyes away from the big screen over the month-long event.

Launching this year's summer lineup compilation trailer for the FDA and its membership, television presenter Alex Zane joshed "no-one I know likes football so we don't need to worry about this World Cup thing going on."

But the FDA's membership will be hoping 1st quarter growth -- U.K. boxoffice receipts in January to March 2010 scored £291.1 million ($448.6 million), 16% higher than the same period last year -- will not hit a defensive wall when local interest in the tournament kicks off June 12 with England vs U.S.A.

The FDA predicts that 65 million people will set the cash tills ringing here from May through the end of August, roughly the equivalent of the entire British population.

The FDA showed a trailer featuring clips from 40 out of more than 150 films to be released during those summer months and unveiled a fresh website for filmgoers to access release dates and upcoming movie information.

FDA president David Puttnam said he thinks digital 3D "will go from strength to strength, and it's exciting also to have new films from the likes of Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Mike Newell, Noel Clarke and so many others."
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