To him, 3-D is drag, drag, drag

Katzenberg scolds exhibs over slow rollout; meanwhile, DWA speeds along

Jeffrey Katzenberg is "pretty disappointed" with the speed — or actually, the lack thereof — with which movie theater operators are rolling out screens with digital and 3-D capacity.

"I am not very happy with how everybody has handled themselves in the last 30 days," the DreamWorks Animation CEO said Tuesday during a conference call after his company reported better-than-expected first-quarter financials.

Theater owners and studios have wrangled over who should pay to equip screens with digital technology. " 'Bureaucratic' would be the nice way" to describe how talks have proceeded, he said.

Katzenberg has been campaigning to get 5,000-plus screens worldwide 3-D-ready by the time DWA releases its first 3-D feature, "Monsters vs. Aliens," in March. But that is "an optimum goal" that won't be reached "if these guys don't get their act together in the next 30 days," he said. There are only about 1,000 3-D-ready digital screens installed in North America.

But it was all good news on the earnings front. DWA reported a first-quarter profit that soared 69% to $26.1 million thanks to solid "Shrek the Third"DVD sales and the international boxoffice and DVD sales of "Bee Movie." Revenue rose to $156.6 million.

Management said it is focused on a key 12-month period that kicks off with the release of "Kung Fu Panda" on June 6 and also includes "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" in November and "Shrek the Musical" in December.

DWA shares closed down 1.9% at $25.74 but rose about 5% in after-hours trading. (partialdiff)