Disney doubles up on 3-D 'Toy Story'

Animated film, sequel getting released as double feature

LAS VEGAS -- Disney will release Pixar Animation Studios' "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" as a digital 3-D double feature for a two-week engagement starting Oct. 2.

On Tuesday at ShoWest, the studio also wowed show delegates with a preview of "Up" -- which looks poised to be another big hit for Pixar on the heels of its animated feature Oscar for "WALL-E" last month -- and an enthusiastically received new 3-D conversion of 1991 classic "Beauty and the Beast," the only animated feature to receive an Academy Award nomination for best picture.

During a 3-D slate presentation, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi asserted that "3-D is here to stay" and restated the studio's commitment to making quality, commercial 3-D films.

Seventeen Disney-announced titles are scheduled for release in the format, and the studio previously has stated plans to produce all CG animated movies in 3-D.

The 3-D "Toy Story" double feature will include an extra-dimensional trailer for the new "Toy Story 3," which opens June 18, 2010. The 1995 "Toy Story" -- the first computer-animated feature -- and its 1999 sequel have been remastered for the format.

Opening May 29, "Up" is Pixar's 10th animated feature and the first to be released in 3-D. Director Pete Docter introduced a 47-minute preview, which features elderly Carl Fredricksen, voiced by Ed Asner, who ties thousands of helium balloons to his house in order to lift it into the air and journey to South America for retirement. What he doesn't anticipate is that a young Wilderness Explorer named Russell ends up on the trip, which includes such characters as a colorful bird and talking dogs. A second, shorter clip featured Fredricksen and Russell and the hovering house fleeing from the dogs.

During the presentation, Zoradi revealed that Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" will be released in Imax 3-D, as well as standard digital 3-D, when it opens March 5. It is the third film confirmed from a previously announced five-picture deal between Disney and Imax.

Burton's retelling of the Disney classic will combine motion capture, live action and animation. Zoradi presented some concept art, including the look of Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter, who wore an oversized top hat, covering his face; Anne Hathaway's dramatic White Queen; and additional characters including a mischievous gray-and-blue Cheshire Cat.

Disney previewed the just-completed first scene for the converted version of "Beauty," which opens Feb. 12. The clip featured the sequence where Belle goes to town and the villagers join her in the song "Belle." Disney also showed its 3-D conversion of the classic shot of Belle and the Beast dancing beneath the ballroom chandelier.

Next up was a 2-D in-production reel of the Robert Zemeckis' performance-capture retelling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts. It opens Nov. 6. The footage included Scrooge, in CG versions as a young and then aged man; some of the ghosts; and London's streets and such sites as Big Ben.

Presenting a test sequence of "Tron 2.0," Zoradi said the 3-D retelling of the 1982 sci-fi film would enter production in the coming weeks.

As has been widely reported, the economic crisis has stalled the transition to digital cinema, which enables 3-D. But Zoradi said that scenario has not altered his company's plans to produce in the format.

"We are nearly at a critical mass," he said. "We hope we soon will be able to have a 3-D-only (wide) release."