'Monsters' going 100% 3-D in China

DreamWorks film will debut on 200 screens

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'Monsters' looking for big 3-D opening

HONG KONG -- Only one market will show "Monsters vs. Aliens" entirely in 3-D as it rolls out during the next week, and it might not be one's first guess.

"China is the only market in the world where it will be shown 100% in 3-D," Jeffrey Katzenberg said Wednesday at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

The DreamWorks Animation boss said the animated comedy will debut here Tuesday -- four days after its U.S. bow -- on more than 200 3-D-equipped screens, making it practically impossible to pirate with a video recorder.

Katzenberg said the move, along with the regional success of the studio's animated hits "Kung Fu Panda" and "Madagascar," shows Asia is increasingly important to DreamWorks.

"Our growth here has been explosive," he said, adding that he recently has doubled his travel to Asia, traveling from Los Angeles eight times during the past 12 months.

Movie ticket sales rose 27% in China in 2008, but the territory still has far fewer screens per capita than most developed nations. That makes China's growth "magnetic," Katzenberg said, dismissing the notion that cost-conscious Chinese moviegoers will not pay a premium for 3-D tickets.

"Moviegoers in China today are much more diverse than they were three years ago," he said. "Like so many things in China, they've changed even more in the past 18 months, which is why the market's drawing so much investment and so many entrepreneurs."

Katzenberg said there are about 2,000 3-D-capable theaters in the U.S. and another 1,500 outside America, including more than 200 in mainland China, several hundred in the U.K. and 100 in France.

Katzenberg said he expects those numbers to "multiply several times" during the next year or two because new technology is significantly better than the previous generation of 3-D. But he cautioned filmmakers not to rely on it too heavily.

"If it's not a great story, all the bells and whistles in the world are not going to make it successful," Katzenberg said. "3-D can't make a bad movie good."

A typical DreamWorks animated movie costs about $150 million to make, and a 3-D movie costs another $15 million, he said.

Lim Han Seng, regional director of sales and marketing for distributor United International Pictures Asia, put at 180 the number of screens on which "Monsters vs. Aliens" would show in China, mostly in Beijing and Shanghai.

China, which caps at 20 the annual number of imported films allowed to screen on a revenue-sharing basis, has allowed 3-D pictures to skirt that limit.