3-D 'Vincent' opens 'Nightmare'

Part of Disney's 'long-term commitment' to format

One of Tim Burton's earliest animated shorts, "Vincent," will be converted to a stereoscopic 3-D form.

The film will play on 3-D-ready digital-cinema screens as the opening attraction to screenings of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D," which will be rereleased by the Walt Disney Co. in October.

Made in 1982, "Vincent" is a six-minute stop-motion film that tells the story of Vincent Malloy, a youth who imagines that he is like Vincent Price. The black-and-white short is based on a poem written by Burton, who was influenced by Price. Price narrated the film.

"When you have an evergreen title like 'Nightmare,' it is very important to give the fan a chance to sample something new," said Chuck Viane, president of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures Domestic Distribution. "Each year on bring backs, we are going to try to add some value."

This news comes on the heels of the opening of Disney's animated "Meet the Robinsons," which grossed $7.1 million on 581 Real D 3-D-ready digital-cinema screens domestically, the largest digital 3-D opening to date. These engagements represented 28% of the film's overall three-day gross of $25.1 million on 13% of the screens. According to Buena Vista, the film's 3-D engagements grossed 2.6 times more than traditional 2-D engagements, while the capacity of the average 3-D theater is 243 seats.

Excitement about the release was particularly high at Disney's "Frog Bar" — an office at Disney where the team working on the 3-D project had met daily to go over new 3-D-ready digital-cinema installations in preparation for the "Robinsons" opening. "This is a very dedicated group that worried about each install," Viane said. "The last (3-D system) went in Friday morning, a few minutes after midnight."

"Vincent" and "Nightmare" are the next 3-D presentations scheduled for release by Disney. Viane estimates that for that opening, the industry will be approaching a count of 1,000 3-D-ready digital-cinema screens, and that the number could reach 1,200 for the Sony release of Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf" in November.

Compare that with Disney's "Chicken Little," the first 3-D digital feature, which opened in November 2005 on 84 screens. Viane noted that while the screen counts differed, the 3-D engagements of "Chicken Little" grossed 2.6 times more than the traditional 2-D, which was the same average as "Robinsons."

"(3-D) is being sought out by the public; they are making a conscious decision to go to the 3-D screen first," Viane said. "It's always about the movie and story and creativity first; as an enhancement, the 3-D give the public another reason to choose that movie."

In February, Disney announced a partnership with Zemeckis and his partners to create performance capture 3-D animated films at the studio.

When asked about that deal, Viane said, "We will be making an announcement detailing titles that will be coming out in the future. We are very involved in it, and we have a very long-term commitment to 3-D."