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Fight over 3-D screens heats up with high-pressure tactics

TrainYourDragon Ever since Time Warner's Warner Bros. announced its plans in February to open "Clash of the Titans" in 3-D on April 2, just one week after DreamWorks Animation's 3-D "How to Train Your Dragon" debuts, studio executives and theater owners have known there would be an all-out battle for the limited number of 3-D-capable screens.

The battle is heating up this week. Exhibition executives at the ShoWest industry conference in Las Vegas have been buzzing about the pressure they're under from Viacom's Paramount Pictures, distributor of "Dragon," and Warner Bros. to book their respective movies.

Paramount has taken the unusual and aggressive step of telling theaters with a 3-D-capable screen that if they choose not to show it in 3-D, they won't be provided with a 2-D copy to show instead. 

"It's an underhanded threat," said one California theater operator who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

Walt Disney Studios, meanwhile, is looking to keep as many 3-D screens as possible for "Alice in Wonderland," which has grossed more than $220 million domestically in its first 12 days.

For much more on the battle for 3-D screens and Paramount's high-stakes gambit to ensure that "How to Train Your Dragon" secures as many as possible, see the story in Thursday's Times.

-- Ben Fritz and Richard Verrier

Photo: A scene from "How to Train Your Dragon." Credit: DreamWorks Animation.

 
Comments () | Archives (6)

The honorable thing for Disney to do is to pull Alice in Wonderland and allow upcoming 3D films into those theatres. Because, let's be honest, Alice is a mediocre 3D experience and movie watchers were ripped off! Avatar was worth the extra $ for 3D and Imax. Clash of the Titans should delay their release and give the Dragon movie a few weeks without competition. I think it's better for Hollywood if all the studios succeed.

There are at least two theaters in the Los Angeles area that have an IMAX and TWO 3D Screens. Both currently have Alice in IMAX and 3D, and still have Avatar on the other 3D screen (talk about staying power, still in the top 10 after how many weeks?). Avatar will most likely be bumped off finally now that that two more 3D movies are to be released soon.

Oh no, here we go again. Businesses squabble and drag the consumer through the mud. Didn't they learn anything with Blue Ray vs HD? The production houses should be giving away the 3D equiment to theatre chains in exchange for showing their movie and charging double the ticket price. Theatres make most of their money off concessions - ticket revenue goes to the movie makers. For the millions they spend to produce one movie and the millions more they make in profit, surely they can freely subsidize a few screens without having to make consumers suffer through it all...again.

While 3D isn't my cup of tea, visually or finance wise, I don't begrudge anyone who wants to experience 3D. That said, it's idiotic for movie studios to shove 3D down our throats. If my only options are to pay more money for a gimmick I don't care for or skipping the movie in theaters entirely, I have no problem with the latter. By trying to force theaters into a tactic to charge the consumer more, all they are doing is driving away otherwise loyal patrons. This is a cutthroat, mercenary tactic and I refuse to support it.

Mike, you obviously have lousy taste in movies. Alice was GREAT in 3D!

Joshua,

3D doesn't have to be a gimmick (refer to Avatar). But sadly most of it is. Hopefully, that is soon to change.


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