Jeffrey Katzenberg still on 3-D stump

Promoting two DreamWorks titles at Cinema Expo

AMSTERDAM -- It's a well-traveled act by now, Jeffrey Katzenberg's promo push for 3-D exhibition.

This time, the DreamWorks Animation topper took his extra-dimensional tubthumping to Cinema Expo, where he's also promoting two DWA titles.

"One year ago, I stood here and first spoke to you about 3-D," he recalled while gracefully omitting the scant progress Europe has made in its rollout of digital projection, let alone 3-D accouterments.

"I think this is the single greatest opportunity in 70 years," Katzenberg said. "Not since the introduction of Technicolor 70 years ago has there been something so impactful to what we do."

Although the notion that many of the assembled exhibitors might be playing 3-D movies anytime soon was perhaps a bit fanciful, the DWA CEO's enthusiasm can be contagious.

"We hear there are going to be like 10 to 12 movies released in 3-D in 2009," said Gerald Buckle, d-cinema manager for regional digital pioneer Odeon Cinemas. "That's quite an incentive for doing something."

There are fewer than 150 3-D screens sprinkled throughout Europe, compared with about 1,000 in the U.S.

Hollywood executives dream of a day when they can release 3-D films on thousands of global screens, but for now studios must split their distribution efforts between conventional and 3-D prints. And the number of runs in the former category dwarfs those in the latter.

Katzenberg shared with the exhibs a well-received extended clip from "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," which is set to unspool in December as DWA's last feature production animated in conventional CGI. He also showed footage from Easter 2009's "Monsters vs. Aliens," whose 3-D animation represents the future for DWA.

Also Monday, Nielsen PreView execs presented details of a newly released study showing substantial consumer appetite for 3-D cinema.

Nielsen PreView senior vp Ann Marie Dumais said additional consumer education about the technology could broaden 3-D interest even further. The Nielsen Co. is the corporate parent of Nielsen PreView and The Hollywood Reporter.