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Katzenberg angry over Warner's 'Clash of the Titans' 3-D release

DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg went into overdrive last week after Warner Bros. announced plans to release its movie "Clash of the Titans" in 3-D, stepping on the toes of DreamWorks' animated release "How to Train Your Dragon," according to people with knowledge of the situation.

KATZENBERG Katzenberg shot off an e-mail to Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman Barry Meyer last week, protesting his studio's decision to release the film April 2, a week after the debut of "How to Train Your Dragon," said a person familiar with the matter.

The DreamWorks chief also communicated his displeasure to at least one other top Warner executive.

Representatives of both studios declined to comment.

Warner Bros. originally planned to release the remake of the 1981 Greek mythology tale in 2-D on March 26 -- the same day "How to Train Your Dragon" is opening. But on Feb. 2, the Burbank studio surprised many in the industry when it announced it was also releasing the movie in 3-D and putting off its release by one week.

MEYER That didn't sit well with Katzenberg, one of Hollywood's biggest champions of 3-D movies, who was counting on having the lion's share of 3-D screens for "Dragon." The reaction was understandable since the decision will leave "Dragon" with fewer available 3-D screens. There are currently about 3,500 3-D screens in the U.S. DreamWorks plans three 3-D films this year.

For its part, Warner Bros. is simply trying to cash in on the 3-D bandwagon, fueled by the massive success of James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi epic "Avatar."

Although JPMorgan Chase has raised nearly $700 million to help speed up the rollout of 3-D systems in theaters, the shortage of screens has intensified friction  among studios as they compete for a limited number of screens.

Despite the new funding, it will take months before the new digital systems are installed, leading to a bottleneck for 3-D films, especially in March, when Walt Disney Pictures also releases "Alice in Wonderland" in 3-D.  What's more,  "Avatar" could still be in theaters.

-- Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller


Photos: Jeffrey Katzenberg (right) and Barry Meyer. Credits: Alberto Rodriguez and Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

 
Comments () | Archives (13)

BOOHOO!!! It's a business, if you have believe you have the better product then you should have nothing to worry about. If the movie is good, people will watch it and many will return for repeat viewings. It will have strong legs (longevity) in the box office and make it's money in the long run. Quit crying Katz.

Boo-frigging-hoo,

So Jeffrey's mad cause he wants the lions share of 3d screens. Why not go throw a tantrum little boy.

Sounds like Hollywood is becoming more like wall street where greed rules.

it is competitive out there and may the best movie win - not the one with the most screens.

In 2009 the average length of time for a 3D film to be on a 3D screen was between 3 and 4 weeks. Based on the number of 3D releases planned for 2010, that average is projected to drop to 1.7 weeks.

Studios spend a fortune making films, especially animated films such as "How To Train Your Dragon". As well, they spend a lot of time and resources planning out their release schedule.

With all of this in mind it is easy to see why Mr. Katzenberg is so upset about Warner Bros. decision to invade theaters with a 3D version of "Clash of the Titans". Surely Katzenberg and Paramount knew that "Clash" would be releasing shortly after "How To Train Your Dragon" when they set the films' release date. However the demographic for both movies don't dramatically overlap, so there really was no programming issue with having the two films in theaters at the same time. As this post/article so adeptly points out, this is not the case if the films need to play on the same exact 3D screens. How much box office would "Avatar" have lost if the number of 3D screens showing the film were cut in half just two weeks after release? Quite a bit I'm sure.

Additionally, there might be more going on here than simply a release date scuffle or screen real estate grab. Keep in mind, unlike most other studios Warner Bros. has not wanted to sign virtual print fee agreements which help exhibitors pay for digital 3D equipment. That the studio would now try to jump on the 3D bandwagon at the last minute is a little ironic (though not unpredictable given "Avatar's" box office).

Jeffery should be thankful . I never even heard of the Dragon film until now thanks to this article. He might want send an email his the publicity department instead of baggin on WB. Titans looks great!

I hope there will be full-disclosure on 3-D films that were post-processed, instead of actually filmed with steroscopic cameras...because there's going to be a lot of angry filmgoers if they pay extra to see Clash in 3-D and it looks terrible.

Now there is a flood of 3d movies out there. One can even buy 3d glasses for one's home computer. So the fact that the big studio players have helped create this interest has filtered down to benfit those with an interest in everyday 3d. So the competition has I think proved to be a good thing.

The new 3D's were a lot of fun at first, (he old style 3d never worked for me)

But I have to say, i don't think i will ever bother to see another. The novelty has worn off and 3d interferes with good cinema. All 3ds have the obligatory comin atcha scenes and once you've seen a few dozen of those, well, it just gets boring. Just my opinion.

Yeah, pretty hard to feel sympathy. It's not really a tragedy when you made xx millions, instead of making xxx millions.

I think that 3D is just a flash in the pan that will quickly sizzle out. There is a lot of extra expense all the way around and in the end you have a movie thats based on things popping out at the audience. it's a guarantee that the audience will soon be bored and looking for real content.

I can see his point, I dont think it's fair either. But then again, being poor and starving isn't fair also. But , many people suffer that injustice also.

Love the 3D. I suppose i'll eventually get tired of it, but for now they are a lot of fun!

i dont see 3D lasting very long, going to the movies is expensive enough these days and most people have excellent movie theater at home.


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