Five advocates stating 3-D's case
"You have to put the narrative first," Cameron says. True, but he's also a tech pioneer, co-inventing the Fusion 3-D camera system he used to make the 2003 Imax film "Ghosts of the Abyss." The camera was so effective it has since been deployed on, among others, the "Hanna Montana" concert film and "Journey to the Center of the Earth." And, of course, Cameron is using it again on his 3-D sci-fi epic "Avatar," slated to open Dec. 18, 2009.
Disney has always been a studio of firsts: the first synchronized sound cartoon (1928's "Steamboat Willie"), the first feature-length animated film (1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs") and, in 2005, the first digital 3-D animated feature ("Chicken Little"). As its chairman, Cook has led the charge. Starting with next month's "Bolt," all future Disney and Pixar films will be released in both 2-D and Disney Digital 3-D. "3-D is going to evolve and get better and better," Cook says.
The DreamWorks Animation CEO has emerged as one of the strongest -- and certainly most vocal -- champions of digital 3-D, which he has hailed as the biggest innovation in moviegoing since color. "I believe this is an opportunity for all of us to actually grow admissions, not just revenues," he says. DWA has committed to release all of its films in 3-D beginning with "Monsters vs. Aliens" on March 27. The company has been developing 3-D production processes at its growing Glendale campus, and Katzenberg isn't shy about challenging exhibitors to add more digital theaters to further the 3-D movement.
Sports fans might soon be dodging foul balls at the multiplex if Redstone's plans for live 3-D broadcasts of Red Sox games come to fruition. The president of National Amusements says she wants to turn her theaters into "community entertainment destinations." To that end, she has made 10%-15% of her theaters 3-D capable, with 100% of NA's markets soon to be "covered in a significant way." And she hopes her recently launched "Showcase Live!" concept -- a 500-seat dinner theater featuring artists like Chaka Khan and Aimee Mann -- can eventually morph into exclusive live 3-D screen events.
With "Back to the Future," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Forrest Gump," Zemeckis expanded the boundaries of visual effects. Then he discovered 3-D. The performance-capture releases "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf" were both presented in the format, and Zemeckis' Disney-based ImageMovers banner is now readying a 3-D version of "A Christmas Carol" with Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three of his ghostly visitors. "Our breath was taken away," recalls Zemeckis' producing partner Steve Starkey of seeing 3-D demo footage from "Polar Express." "We have not looked back since."
Profiles reported and written by Ethan Alter, Carolyn Giardina and Kevin Lally.