It's the 3-D battle of the bands

'U2,' 'Hannah' concert pics will arrive days apart

Call it a generation gap: A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act will go head-to-head on 3-D screens with the latest rage among teens and tweens.

National Geographic Cinema Ventures said Friday that it will release the concert film "U2 3D." The company plans to open the movie in late January at 3-D-ready digital-cinema theaters and in Imax 3-D. This would be just days before Disney's scheduled 3-D theatrical release of "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour," which is scheduled to run Feb. 1-7.

Said NGCV president Lisa Truitt of the planned "U2 3D" release window: "The film's done, and it had an amazing reception at Cannes. We think we need to get it out."

But John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said he views a close release of the two 3-D films as a problem.

"As the industry expands our 3-D installations, distributors of movies and other content must be mindful of the limited infrastructure available," he said. "We have a lot of 3-D movies scheduled for 2009, and the distributors are adjusting schedules to be mindful of the 3-D infrastructure that will be in place then. The 3-D infrastructure will be even more limited next year. By late January/early February, we won't have more than 1,000 3-D-ready digital screens — at the most. I don't know how wide they expect these to go."

Said Truitt: "Our distribution business grew from Imax distribution, so we look for a very long life for these films. We are going to have a different release pattern (than 'Hannah Montana'). Maybe we can open small and go bigger after 'Hannah,' that's one of the options that we are looking at. We are not ready to say exactly what we are going to do yet."

"U2 3D," directed by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington, was filmed at a series of concerts in South America during U2's Vertigo Tour. 3ality Digital's Jon Shapiro, Peter Shapiro and John Modell, along with Owens, produced the 3ality Digital presentation. 3ality Digital's Sandy Climan, Michael Peyser and David Modell are executive producers.

Distribution of the film will be led by Mark Katz, president of NGCV distribution. Russell Schwartz, former president of marketing at New Line, will oversee the marketing.