The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Why is the Katz Man suddenly unhappy with a 3-D movie?

February 11, 2010 | 11:55 am

For the past 18 months, DreamWorks Animation czar Jeffrey Katzenberg has been circling the globe, touting the glories of 3-D movies with evangelical zeal, essentially saying -- over and over again -- that everyone should be making their movies in 3-D, since its the format of the future. (He even managed to woo New York Times political columnist Maureen Dowd, who just did a puff job touting Katzenberg's 3-D crusade.)

Katzenberg But guess what? Apparently even Katzenberg's 3-D zeal has its limits, especially when it comes to a rival studio that's going to open its 3-D movie a week after Katzenberg's new film. As you may have heard, Warner Bros. announced it will release "Clash of the Titans" in 3-D on April 2, one week after DreamWorks Animation unveils its latest 3-D film, "How to Train Your Dragon." According to my colleagues Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller, Katzenberg was furious when he heard the news, so much so that he shot off an e-mail to Warners Entertainment chief Barry Meyer, heatedly protesting the decision.

It's easy to understand why Katzenberg was so unhappy. As my colleagues wrote, Katzenberg was "counting on having the lion's share of 3-D screens for 'Dragon,' but the Warners move will inevitably rob the DreamWorks movie of many of the U.S.' 3,500-odd available 3-D screens. Needless to say, it seems a teeny-weeny bit hypocritical for the Katz Man to beat the drums for rolling out every sort of film in 3-D yet complain when the marketplace suddenly gets so crowded that it's his big new release that might be hurt by all the congestion.

Warners hasn't gotten off scot-free either, since its move to suddenly transform "Titans" into a 3-D film long after it had finished shooting smacks of pure, post-''Avatar'' 3-D-grosses exploitation. The fan sites have been giving the studio a good spanking, complaining that movies converted into 3-D during the post-production process are unlikely to have any of the same quality as films actually conceived of and shot in 3-D. But, of course, this is just what happens when the much-hyped 3-D revolution turns out to have a lot more to do with marketing gamesmanship and profiteering than any sort of pure cinematic artistry.