Working together as the “Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative,” four consumer electronics companies intend to commercialize a backward-compatible standard for 3D glasses beginning next year.
Panasonic Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Sony Corp. and X6D Limited (XPAND 3D) will jointly develop and license the radio frequency (RF) technology for “active-shutter” 3D glasses, including RF system protocols for 3D televisions, personal computer displays, and certain theaters. The standardization will also include multiple types of infrared (IR) system protocols between 3D active glasses and 3D displays, ranging from the protocols already jointly developed by Panasonic and XPAND 3D, to the proprietary protocols of Samsung and Sony, respectively.
Announcing the plans in a statement, Masayuki Kozuka, general manager of Panasonic’s Media & Content Alliance Office, said, “We hope the expanded collaboration on this 3D standardization initiative will make a significant contribution toward accelerating the growth of 3D-related products.”
More at Consumer Reports, which notes that the companies are eager to make active 3D technology more competitive with “passive” 3D systems, whose glasses are more lightweight, less expensive, and already standardized.
More highlights from the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas:
• Microsoft Corp. announced today a “partner ecosystem” to develop cloud distribution solutions for the media and entertainment sector, using the platform. A slate of companies have joined the Microsoft initiative, including Digital Rapids and Origin Digital for cloud-based content processing; Arvato Digital Services, DAVID Systems, Harris Broadcast Communications, Polycom Video Content Management, Sitecore, and TechPath for cloud-based content management; Aspera, iStreamPlanet, MPS Broadband, and Signiant for cloud-based content delivery; and BuyDRM and Cognizant for cloud-based content protection.
• Meanwhile, “Avatar” director James Cameron announced a new venture with the blockbuster film’s cameraman, Vince Pace, to design 3D camera systems, creative tools, and services for television producers. Unveiling the Cameron-Pace Group at NAB, the director told Reuters that he expects 3D productions to take hold on the small screen within five years. “3D is just how all broadcast entertainment will be done. Sports, episodic drama, scripted and unscripted — we haven’t seen anything yet that doesn’t have a great degree of value added by being in 3D,” he said.
Ahead of next week’s National Association of Broadcasters convention (NAB), Technicolor is unveiling a cloud-based media storage service designed to support content owners, aggregators and distributors in their shift from physical to digital media.
Technicolor developed its Media Storage Service (TMSS) with enterprise storage and data management company NetApp, which manages the product.
The new service offers a “pay-as-you-go” pricing model, allowing customers to scale storage to meet demand fluctuations, and avoid over-investing in off-peak periods.With TMSS, Technicolor says, customers can provision the storage they need in days instead of weeks, accelerating completion of projects. The service is integrated with MediAffinity, Technicolor’s digital content management and a access platform.
Technicolor plans to demonstrate the TMSS solution at the NetApp booth of the NAB convention, which is set to commence in Las Vegas on April 11.
Separately, Technicolor announced that UK film distributor Momentum Pictures recently utilized the company’s 3D quality analysis service, Certifi3D, for the UK release of Wes Craven horror title “My Soul To Take.” The company is also demonstrating the Certifi3D service at NAB.
Quality assurance specialist Testronic Labs marks the testing of its 5,500th Blu-ray disc SKU this month, along with its 75th 3D SKU — two project milestones for the company.
Testronic chief executive Seth Hallen says the company is carrying forward its QA experience with physical goods into the digital ream. “We have our eye on the future,” he says in a statement, “and are ready to support our clients in all of the ways that they are delivering content to today’s consumer marketplace.”
Los Angeles-based Digital Whisper aims to provide insights and recommendations for companies either planning to enter the 3D industry or shoot in stereoscopic 3D. Founder Angela Wilson Gyetvan previously served as VP of sales and marketing for top 3D entertainment developer 3ality Digital.
London-based digital media and motion graphics company The Pavement now offers Blu-ray 3D encoding, design, authoring and QC services, having recently completed its first stereoscopic title.
The company says it turned around its first Blu-ray 3D project — “The Lovers’ Guide 3D: Igniting Desire,” from Lifetime Productions and Studio Canal’s Optimum Releasing — in just two weeks following its receipt of masters, enabling the distributor to release the disc Feb. 7 in a Valentine’s Day-themed campaign. Compatibility and compliance testing of the “Lovers’ Guide” title was completed by BluFocus in the U.S.
The Pavement notes it also is working alongside Goldcrest New York, a facility that has been providing stereoscopic post production services since last spring. Goldcrest Group owns a majority stake in London Blu-ray production house.
The largest theater circuit in the U.S. is betting that there is plenty of growth opportunity still to come in 3D films.
Regal Entertainment Group is expanding is 3D cinema relationship with technology provider RealD, adding 3D capabilities to as many as 1,500 more screens as studios beef up their stereroscopic film slate.
Regal already has RealD 3D capabilities installed for 1,500 screens. “Doubling our agreement for RealD 3D-enabled screens will allow us to play multiple 3D films at the same time and assure moviegoers the option of seeing films in a premium 3D format,” said Amy Miles, Regal chief executive, in a statement.
According to RealD, studios plan to release 35 3D films in 2011, up from 22 films in 2010.
Roger Ebert has never been a fan of Hollywood’s current 3D push. Although he praised James Cameron’s “Avatar” for how “carefully employed” its 3D images were, Ebert outlined nine reasons last spring for why studios should not adopt the technology as a marketing default.
On Sunday, the critic published a letter he received from noted film editor/sound designer Walter Murch that purportedly offers a technical explanation of “why 3D doesn’t work and never will.” The biggest problem, according to Murch, is that 3D films tax viewers’ brains by forcing their eyes to focus at one distance (the plane of the movie screen) while “converging” at varying distances to follow the 3D action. Hence the headaches that some 3D viewers report. “Case closed,” Ebert declares.
But not everyone agrees with Murch’s view that 3D film effects create insurmountable visual challenges.
Slate science editor Daniel Engber, for one, is taking a softer stance on the technology after complaining of 3D’s shortcomings in 2009. “After watching 10 or 20 of these films since then,” he writes in a response to Ebert’s latest article, “I’ve grown accustomed to the ocular aerobics, and the same format that gave me splitting headaches back in 2009 hardly bothers me now. Meanwhile, certain technical innovations, especially in animated [3D], have begun to eliminate some of the medium’s most egregious visual quirks.”
Engber also agrees that a “puppet-theater effect” persists in live-action 3D movies, but “that ‘problem,’ too, may diminish as we all get used to it.”
With its new “Technicolor Certifi3D” program, Technicolor looks to help broadcasters and network service providers deliver “quality and comfortable” 3D experiences to end consumers.
As part of the certification service, the company will evaluate 3D shots against a set of objective criteria for stereographic reproduction, including a 15-point checklist to identify common errors in production. Technicolor also will offer training programs to broadcasters and content creators to help them migrate their production and post-production techniques from traditional 2D television to the three-dimensional medium.
“Our 3D certification platform allows our stereo technicians to quickly and precisely diagnose many of the issues that create viewer fatigue and discomfort,” says Pete Routhier, Technicolor’s VP of 3D product strategy and business development. “Our goal in launching the Certifi3D program was to take a proactive approach in support of the industry to ensure a consistent and quality end consumer 3D experience in the home.”
More details on the new program at Technicolor’s site.
DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group releases several stats boosting the emergent Blu-ray 3D format:
• Since March, consumer awareness of 3D-capable TVs has risen to more than 80%, while awareness of Blu-ray 3D players has increased to almost 60%, according to DEG research. Further, of the more than five million HDTVs expected to be sold between now and mid-January, 30% will be 3D-capable.
• The DEG also cited data from UK-based FutureSource Consulting reporting that 3D TV sales in the U.S. are on track to represent 4.5% of all flat panels sold this year. Worldwide, the adoption rate of 3D TV will be faster than HDTVs in many territories, FutureSource says.
The DEG had previously announced that nearly 40 Blu-ray 3D titles will hit retail shelves by the end of the year.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment kicked off this week a holiday promotion at its Disney Movie Rewards loyalty site, offering a Sony Blu-ray player for $59 to customers who purchase five Disney Blu-ray combo packs through Jan. 31, 2011. Blu-ray.com reports details of the promotion, which spans 20 of the studio’s titles from “Alice in Wonderland” to “Toy Story 3.” The featured Sony Blu-ray player is 3D-compatible — beating on features the $99 Sony player touted in Target’s reported Black Friday promotion.
Hasbro looks to one-up the View-Master concept from its archrival Mattel with a set of binoculars that attach to an iPhone or iPod Touch to create a 3D video experience.
Hasbro’s “My 3D” device will launch in the spring of 2011 at a price of $30, according to AP, which first reported the news. The product will work with free and paid video apps marketed on the Apple App Store. Companies developing My 3D apps include DreamWorks Animation and the 3D television network from Discovery, Sony and Imax, according to AP.
One in five consumers (20%) reports being “amazed” by 3D home entertainment demonstrations at retail outlets — a higher percentage than 3D moviegoers who felt the same way (15%), according to the NPD Group.
“Since high-quality digital 3D has been available in the theaters for a few years now, consumers have come to expect impressive effects that are worth the price of admission,” says NPD’s Ross Rubin. “However, 3D TVs are relatively new and those viewing a demo don’t have to pay for the privilege, resulting in lower expectations that the sets are often exceeding.”
A recent NPD survey finds that 26% of consumers have experienced 3D in theaters in the past 12 months, while only 4% have seen the 3D demos at retail. But four in 10 consumers (42%) are at least somewhat interested in watching 3D movies at home.
Wowed though they may be by demo displays, purchase intent for a 3D TV remains in the low double-digits: 11% of consumers. Cost of the sets remains a barrier for many. Other concerns among those not interested in 3D at home include the relatively short amount of time the technology has been available, and whether or not technical issues have been addressed.
Keynoting a conference in Los Angeles this past weekend, Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Michael Lynton rejected the notion that 3D films were a passing fad. “I think the history of cinema and imagery is a history of the human eye…3D has come along at a moment where we as a culture can understand the images,” the executive said (via The Hollywood Reporter). “That means it’s not a fad.”
Lynton added that while the novelty of 3D (among consumers and studios alike) may “temper down,” some shortcomings of this year’s 3D implementations — such as a lack of properly-sized glasses for children — will “level out,” keeping the enhanced (read: premium) experience intact in theaters.
3D premiums have not contributed to the studio’s top-grossing 2010 releases, such as “The Karate Kid” and “Grown Ups.” But the stereoscopic feature helped “Resident Evil: Afterlife” (from Sony’s Screen Gems unit) take in nearly $60 million since its Sept. 10 release, according to Box Office Mojo.
Industry expectations over 3D home entertainment and media tablets such as Apple’s iPad are approaching their respective peaks, according to a new “hype cycle” forecast by marketing research firm Gartner.
The forecast (via CNET) plots the emerging technologies — along with a host of others, such as private cloud computing — on a modified sine wave curve of industry expectations over time. After reaching the “peak of inflated expectations,” new technologies are generally cast into a “trough of disillusionment” from both consumers and prospective industry participants before ascending a “slope of enlightenment” and prospering on a “plateau of productivity,” Gartner says.
Technologies generally survive the correction of expectations; Gartner estimates both 3D home displays and media tablets are two to five years away from mass adoption.
More on the research firm’s methodology here.
Leading technology providers from the home entertainment industry will showcase the latest Home 3D applications to complement the upcoming Blu-Con event at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on November 2.
The conference, which will also be highlighted by an exclusive conversation between “Avatar” filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau, is the third annual technology, business and creative event for the worldwide Blu-ray Disc community. For the first time, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is officially joining Blu-Con with an exclusive display of the latest Blu-ray 3D technologies, featuring demonstrations by Intel, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony Electronics and Technicolor. The Blu-ray 3D Pavilion will provide conference attendees with an up-close experience with these emerging products and services.
“Blu-ray Disc has quickly become the standard for high definition home entertainment, enjoying one of the most rapid consumer adoption rates of any packaged media format,” said Victor Matsuda, chairman, Blu-ray Disc Association Global Promotions Committee. “With Blu-ray Disc now a mainstay in the living room and Blu-ray 3D starting to emerge, Blu-con 2010 is a great venue to highlight the latest developments and show what lies ahead for Blu-ray.”
For more information about Blu-Con 2010, and to register to attend, visit www.Blu-Con.com. For more information about the Blu-ray Disc Association, visit www.blu-raydisc.com. Blu-Con is presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group (www.degonline.org).
3D home entertainment is receiving a high-profile endorsement from Activision Publishing, which announces that its forthcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops” (in stores Nov. 9) will feature a 3D game playing mode.
The first-person shooter game will be compatible with 3D-ready HDTVs and 3D PCs utilizing active shutter 3D glasses, with the stereoscopic game mode available on game versions for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC systems.
“Development of stereoscopic 3D began as an R&D project, but once we saw what the technology brought to the ‘Call of Duty’ experience, what a great fit and how immersive it was, we knew that we had to develop it for ‘Black Ops,'” Mark Lamia, studio head of Treyarch, the game’s developer, said in a statement. Specific 3D implementations in the game include aiming down the sights of weapons and flying in helicopters, Lamia added.
Gamer site Kotaku, whose writers were recently treated to a review of the game’s 3D visuals, issues a preliminary opinion that the technology enhances — but does not transform — the title’s gameplay.
Stereoscopic conversion work has not yet commenced on James Cameron’s “Titanic,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. But the producers of the 1997 blockbuster film are eyeing an early 2012 release date for “Titanic 3D” — sometime between April and February. That may put it in contention with the 3D version of Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” which the Reporter says is also slated for an early-2012 debut.
Interestingly, the original version of “Titanic” has yet to see Blu-ray release; studio executives claim to be waiting for the install base of players to increase.
The production company said it had not yet determined a specific release date for “Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lucasfilm plans to release subsequent ‘Star Wars’ installments at the same time in consecutive years. That means that a stereoscopic version of “Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi” would not debut on 3D screens until 2017.
The series will be presented in theaters with studio Twentieth Century Fox. Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic will supervise the conversions.
“Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right,” says John Knoll, Industrial Light & Magic’s Visual Effects Supervisor. “It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results. For ‘Star Wars’ we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.”
For proponents of the 3D film market, 2012 is a ways off: the technology will need to continue to prove itself in theaters over the next 15 months for “Star Wars” to have any positive effect. But William Blair analyst Ralph Schackart says that with Lucasfilm’s 3D endorsement, investors in companies such as RealD should be confident in the market’s prospects.
“The key conclusion is that marquee directors continue to show strong support for 3D, through both the creation of new content and the up-conversion of mega-hit titles,” Schackart says in a note (via Barron’s). “Avatar” director James Cameron is also planning a 3D conversion of his 1997 hit “Titanic.”
Opinions differ among industry observers on the merits of studios’ strategy to exclusively bundle 3D Blu-ray versions of films with select 3D electronics brands, Blu-ray.com reports.
Research firm Screen Digest raises concern in a new report that studios may “miss the window of opportunity” to establish Blu-ray 3D with consumers by holding back the mass-market release of key titles. Others, such as longtime industry commentator Bill Hunt of the Digital Bits, see the Blu-ray 3D strategy as straight out of the playbook of marketing a new format. “It doesn’t really make sense to release your biggest film in 3D,” Hunt says, “when so few people can actually watch it.”
Walt Disney Studios and Sony Electronics are teaming in a U.S. to provide both consumer and retail education, promotion and marketing support for in-home 3D devices and content. The co-promotion includes advertising and retail execution, as well as product bundling, including the Blu-ray 3D debut of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
Launching during the holiday season, the nationwide campaign will offer purchasers of select Sony 3D Bravia HDTVs a choice between “Alice” or the studio’s family-geared “Bolt” on Blu-ray 3D.
The companies said they would extend the offer to “many markets outside of the U.S.” as well.
Other major studios releasing Blu-ray 3D discs have partnered with an electronics company to launch their first 3D products. Last week, reports surfaced that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment would bundle the Blu-ray 3D version of “Avatar” with select 3D devices from Panasonic. DreamWorks Animation and Samsung Electronics are in a deal to bundle movies from the studio such as “How To Train Your Dragon” with Samsung’s “3D starter kits” for home setups.
The Hollywood Reporter faults a shorter summer movie season for a projected 1% decline in box-office revenues between May 7 and Labor Day, with total industry grosses expected to top $4.24 billion.
The sore spot, however, is a near-6% decline in admissions, to a projected 538 million — for which the Reporter implicates exhibitors’ 4.5% increase in average movie ticket prices.
Under a different analysis, 3D may wind up saving studios’ summer revenues, even if high prices kept some moviegoers away. Research site Hollywood.com expects box office grosses from the first weekend of May through Labor Day weekend to rise 2.4% to $4.35 billion in the U.S. and Canada, thanks in no small part to 3D versions of films such as Toy Story 3 (via ). Summer admissions are still another story: Hollywood.com expects attendance to slip 2.6% year-over-year to 552 million.
No matter what the final percentages are, the flagging attendance is bound to exacerbate tensions between studios and exhibitors, which have been skirmishing over theatrical and home entertainment release windows for months.
Announcing a new slate of 3D electronics today, Samsung Electronics said that it would be the exclusive distributor this fall of the 3D Blu-ray version of DreamWorks Animaton’s “How To Train Your Dragon.” The disc will be featured in Samsung’s 3D starter kit, which also includes two pairs of Samsung 3D glasses for at-home viewing.
Samsung’s current 3D starter kit includes a Blu-ray 3D copy of the studio’s “Monsters Vs. Aliens.” Other 3D discs slated for distribution by the electronics company include IMAX’s original productions “Into the Deep” and “Galapagos,” and Giant Screen Films’ “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharoahs.”
Among the new 3D hardware is a portable Blu-ray 3D player and three standalone Blu-ray 3D decks, as well as four 3D LED and Plasma TVs.
Robert Read is named SVP Worldwide HD Marketing for Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures International Entertainment (UPIE). Read, who previously was VP at the studio, oversees Universal’s high-definition initiatives worldwide, serving as global strategist of all new release, catalog and television offerings on Blu-ray™ as well as on other new formats including 3-D and digital home entertainment media.
The Los Angeles-based executive also continues to serve on numerous Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) marketing committees, including his role as Chairman of the Blu-ray Core Marketing Team and his participation on the 3D and DEG Europe committees. (Via PR Newswire)
AIX Records’ “Goldberg Variations Acoutica,” released this week, is the second commercially available Blu-ray 3D disc, following Sony Pictures’ “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” The release, which captures a 53-minute improvisational performance from a group of veteran Los Angeles studio musicians, is the first Blu-ray 3D disc to use Dolby Laboratories’ TrueHD lossless audio encoding format.
Other productions in AIX’s “3D Music Album” series, announced in June (via UltimateAVmag), will include performances by vocalist Rita Coolidge, country artist Mark Chesnutt, classical/jazz flutist James Walker and Free Flight, and chamber music ensemble The Old City String Quartet.
As it nears completion of converting three recent films to 3D for home entertainment release later this year — with several more conversion projects queued in its pipeline — San Diego-based Legend3D says it is now relying on a digital asset management system from Southpaw Technology to manage its increased workload.
Los Angeles-based Integrated Media Technologies recently supervised integration of the Southpaw TACTIC system into Legend3D’s workflow.
Tony Lopez, Legend3D’s Director of Technology, says that with the pace that the company has grown, “we couldn’t keep up using old folder structure and file name conventions.” The TACTIC system’s configurability, Lopez says, enable the facility to utilize it as “a tool for production, as well as asset management, accounting, info for our sales teams, and accurate productivity trending so that we can predict and deliver.”
Legend3D, whose roots are in conversion of black-and-white films to color, adds that the 3D boom has prompted it to grow its US staff from 40 to more than 250 in less than one year.
By Mel Lambert
Interest in creating Blu-ray 3D titles remains on the rise in Hollywood, with BluFocus’s invitation-only “3D-Focus” seminar, held Aug. 3 at the headquarters of audio company DTS in Calabasas, CA, attracting more than 100 content-production professionals.
BluFocus CEO Paulette Pantoja said that turnout for the event was more than double the quality assurance specialist’s initial expectations. “The quality and quantity of the turnout was remarkable,” Pantoja tells M&E Daily. “We were particularly encouraged that so many technical members of the West Coast 3D community came to the event.”
The afternoon seminar sponsored by MESA — a sequel to an online webinar that BluFocus held with MESA in March — addressed a number of critical issues facing the 3D Blu-ray production community.
Following a welcoming address from Pantoja, Andy Parsons from Pioneer Electronics delivered a keynote address that stressed the need for powerful authoring tools.
“Blu-ray 3D adds emotional impact to the viewing experience,” Parsons stressed, “but it must be done consistently; the devil is in the details.”
Presentations during the course of the afternoon offered the latest technical and practical developments for each step of the Blu-ray 3D production process.
John Ying, engineering architect with Sony Pictures Entertainment, addressed 3D authoring and encoding, spotlighting developments in the firm’s new Dualstream 3D software. Terry Marshall, VP of Global Sales, Professional Products Group at Sonic Solutions, outlined the extra stages required for production of 3D media and the availability of 3DAccess, a toolset for preparing video content for distribution on both 3D Blu-ray and electronically via the internet. John Harrington, CEO and founder of Netblender, discussed other outlets for 3D content, including sales kiosks, museums and motion-picture dailies, using the firm’s DoStudio MVC encoding and authoring tools.
Jesse Torres, DTS director of business development content, covered 7.1-channel Surround Audio for 3D titles. DTS’s HD Master Audio lossless encoding is already utilized on 70% of Blu-ray titles, said Torres, who added his company’s expectation for 175 million 7.1-channel home systems to be installed by the end of 2012. Ronny Katz, the firm’s director of professional audio, outlined use of Neural UpMix, a plug-in for Avid Pro Tools workstations that produces a 7.1-channel soundtrack from stereo or 5.1-surround source material. V2.6 of DTS-HD Master Audio, available soon, will offer 48-times real-time soundtrack encoding, Katz said.
The availability of 3D playback tools was addressed by Alex Soohoo, a video architect with Nvidia’s technical marketing group, who provided an overview of the 120 Hz video displays, projectors, laptops and HDTV receivers capable of accepting 3D-format images using the firm’s 3DTV Play Software. Kam Shek, director of technical marketing with Arcsoft’s Video Home Entertainment Group, pointed out that YouTube is streaming 3D content and provided an overview of the firm’s TotalMedia Theater 3 playback software for all 3D formats. Underscoring the growing importance of 3D content, Shek reported that Apple has filed more than 20 3D patents during the past several months.
Following a breakout session of hands-on demonstrations of current authoring and encoding tools, Guy Finley, MESA’s Director of Membership Services introduced the final sessions beginning with Matt Kennedy, CEO/founder of 1K Studios, who gave a presentation on design and enhanced content in 3D. Kennedy discussed a number of user interface opportunities for menus and interactive content, raising various subjective issues that can degrade the 3D experience. Read more
Shares of 3D technology company RealD gained more than 30 percent from the company’s initial public offering pricing yesterday, even as analysts debated the long-term challenges ahead of both the company and the stereoscopic medium in theaters.
BusinessWeek reports that of the 12.5 million total shares offered, 6.5 million came from private-equity funds and other owners. The high number of owner sales was enough to give Chapwood Capital analyst Ed Butowsky pause.
“I’m surprised they’re going public when they are,” Butowsky . “Half of the shares are being sold by existing shareholders – that bothers me.” Butowsky added that the company was losing money; indeed, RealD reported a net loss of $51 million for its fiscal year ended March 26, 2010 (via RTTNews).
Meanwhile, BTIG Research (which has a Sell rating on the RealD stock) points out that the company — presuming it sticks to its current business model of licensing projectors to movie theaters — “requires continued strength in 3D attendance” if it is to succeed over the long term.
BTIG’s current estimates for the company assume that 3D attendance as a percentage of overall US movie attendance will increase from 15% in 2010 to 35% in 2014. However, the research firm says, “we have a hard time believing that more than 1 out of every three attendees of a movie in a few years will be for a 3D film and worry that 35% of attendance could still be too high.”
James Cameron stands to earn $350 million himself from the continuing success of “Avatar,” according to Deadline Hollywood. The film’s director/writer/producer owes much of his total take, the blog says, to record-setting sales of “Avatar” on Blu-ray and DVD.
The number begs the question: just how great a percentage of the year’s total theatrical and home entertainment spending will this single film command? (U.S. and Canada box office topped $10.6 billion in 2009, according to the National Asociation of Theater Owners; DVD and Blu-ray spending was $17.9 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.) Before venturing a guess, don’t forget that “Avatar” is headed back to theaters next month, with a 3D Blu-ray release also in the works.
Twentieth Century Fox says it will bring back James Cameron’s top-grossing film to 3D screens on Aug. 27. The “special edition” of the film will incorporate eight minutes of new footage, according to the LA Times. August will see the debut of two other 3D films: Buena Vista’s musical “Step Up 3D” (Aug. 6) and Miramax’s horror flick “Piranha” (Aug. 20).
Speaking yesterday at an investor conference in Chicago, DreamWorks Animation CFO Lew Coleman acknowledged that his studio would probably have done “some things slightly different” if it had another chance to market “Shrek Forever After” (via Home Media Magazine). Though the film has topped $200 million in domestic box office gross, analysts and investors were expecting more — and some have pointed to a subpar 3D conversion of the “Shrek” franchise. “I think you have to make a compelling case to have a 3D movie in 3D, like ‘Avatar’ and [DreamWorks’ own] ‘How To Train Your Dragon,’” Coleman said. “I don’t think we made that case for ‘Shrek.’”
Reuters reports (via Yahoo) that “Shrek Forever After” has made more than $213 million in the U.S. and Canada since it opened on May 21. But that’s only three-quarters of the $285 million the last “Shrek” film earned over the same number of days in 2007 — without 3D. Indeed, higher prices for 3D tickets factor heavily into the revenue figures for the fourth “Shrek” installment: Coleman said that 3D accounts for 65% of the domestic gross, year-to-date, for “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Shrek Forever After” combined.
Sony Computer Entertainment and Nintendo presented their dueling visions of 3D videogaming at E3 yesterday. Sony, which recently issued a 3D firmware update to its PlayStation 3 user base, touted a slate of stereoscopic games for the console — such as Gran Turismo 5, due out in November. But 3D gameplay requires both a television capable of rendering the images — models of which Sony just began marketing at retail — and a pair of 3D glasses. Nintendo, meanwhile, showed off its no-glasses-required 3DS portable gaming system, which delivered a simulated stereoscopic effect on game images. The company offered no details on price or launch date. The LA Times reports from the E3 convention.
Purchasers of Panasonic’s new Viera 3D plasma HDTV can receive the Blu-ray 3D versions of Fox’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Universal’s Coraline in a mail-in promotion between the consumer electronics company and the two studios. Both 3D titles were authored by the Compression and Authoring Center of Panasonic’s Hollywood Laboratory. The promotion runs through July 10; Panasonic expects to ship the discs within 8-14 weeks of receiving consumer requests. Via
Paramount Pictures looks to boost the profit potential of the M. Night Shyamalan-directed “The Last Airbender,” greenlighting a 3D version of the upcoming film, according to Deadline Hollywood. The studio is reportedly working with Stereo D, whose credits include James Cameron’s “Avatar,” on the 3D conversion.
“Airbender” remains slated for a July 2 debut. DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek Forever After” kicks off the 3D summer film schedule May 21, followed by Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” June 18. By Deadline Hollywood
DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg says Hollywood is at a “genuine crossroads,” and the decisions studios and producers make in the next few months could ensure a healthy life for film-going — or kill the goose that lays the golden egg. By Variety
Sony Creative Software’s upgrade to its Blu-print 6 authoring application adds support for 3D menu graphics and subtitle graphics, along with 3D Blu-ray Java integration. The company’s new Z Depth application generates the required offset metadata file needed in a 3D BD project, allowing editors to more accurately and easily position subtitles when creating 3D Blu-ray discs. The software will be available in June 2010 through Via
RealD, the privately owned technology company based in Beverly Hills that has emerged as the leading provider of 3D systems for movie theaters, is preparing a plan for a public stock offering this summer to cash in on Hollywood’s infatuation with the new format, according to the L.A. Times. The timing is ripe for RealD, which has invested more than $100 million in technology that Hollywood has been quickly embracing. In addition to supplying theaters with 3D adapters that attach to digital projectors, the company has been licensing its technology for 3D viewing in the home. By the Los Angeles Times
DirecTV says that “millions” of its HD customers will have access to ESPN’s 3D programming lineup, including up to 25 2010 FIFA World Cup matches. The channel launches June 11 with the first World Cup match; subsequent programming will include ESPN broadcasts of the X Games 16 and college football’s ACC Championship match in the fall. Customers will need a 3D television set and 3D glasses to view the content. Via Business Wire
Best Buy continues to expand consumer awareness of connected devices by testing so-called “center-of-the-store” initiatives that showcase the ability to receive movies and music into the home through the Internet. During a March 25 conference call with analysts to discuss fourth-quarter results, CEO Brian Dunn said connectivity has become “non-negotiable” for millions of people and that increasing numbers of consumer electronics no longer fall under the category of discretionary purchases. By
Major U.S. movie-theater chains, seeking to capitalize on the surge in revenues fueled by such 3D hits as “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland,” are imposing some of the steepest increases in ticket prices in at least a decade. The new prices take effect Friday in many markets across the country in theaters owned by such major exhibitors as Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark Holdings and AMC Entertainment. By The Wall Street Journal
Nintendo may climb aboard the 3D bandwagon, announcing that it plans to release a new version of its DS handheld incorporating 3D effects sometime before March 2011. But the tentatively-named “3DS” device, Nintendo says in a statement, will not require users to wear “any special glasses.”
Some game industry observers took Nintendo’s announcement as an attempt to one-up Apple, whose iPhone and iPod Touch have become portable gaming devices in their own right. But the bigger issue for Nintendo, as Forbes points out, is the maturity of the DS platform: the company has sold more than 125 million units worldwide of the current-generation systems (including DSi and DSi XL models).
Meanwhile, longtime Nintendo rival Sony Computer Entertainment tells gamer site IGN that PlayStation Portable fans should not expect a 3D announcement anytime soon. Instead, the company remains focused on building 3D into its Blu-ray-based PS3 console.
Paramount Pictures is telling theaters that if they don’t show the upcoming DreamWorks-produced “How To Train Your Dragon” on a 3D screen, then the studio will withhold from the theater a 2D version of the movie, according to an LA Times report. Many multiplexes only have a single 3D screen, so not having a conventional version of the highly anticipated DreamWorks family film to play on their other screens would severely affect ticket sales. By the Los Angeles Times
The research center and screening facility will focus on consumer preferences and perceptions toward 3D programming, as well as how broadcasters and studios can best deliver 3D content for viewing both in and out of the home. “The Sony 3D Experience” will be located within the expanded CBS Television City research facility at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The new center is also being supported by RealD, which is providing its advanced 3D filters and eyewear. Via PR Newswire
Jeffrey Katzeberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation SKG, expects the studios’ upcoming film “How To Train Your Dragon” to command more U.S. and Canadian 3-D screens than the 2,100 his company’s 2009 hit “Monsters vs. Aliens” played on. The studio’s fourth-quarter results beat expectations thanks to a strong performance from its television specials and DVD sales, including for “Monsters vs. Aliens.” By Reuters
Sony Pictures says it weathered last year’s packaged media downturn better than the industry overall, with the studio’s DVD and Blu-ray sales down by only 7% in 2009 (versus an industry-wide 13%). However, the studio recently announced plans to eliminate some 550 positions, mainly within its home entertainment unit.
Nevertheless, David Bishop, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president, says that the industry has turned a corner. “We see Blu-ray and digital starting to fill the hole from the decline in DVD,” Bishop tells the Los Angeles Times. “We’re confident that over the next couple of years, it will get us back to previous levels and some modest growth.” By the Los Angeles Times
EFILM Hollywood, a subsidiary of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, announced that Dave Grove has joined the company as VP of marketing and sales. Grove has been VP of sales at Deluxe Laboratories Hollywood for the last five years. Grove will be responsible for promoting EFILM’S end–to-end digital workflow, a process that begins on set and continues through postproduction. In addition, he will be representing EFILM’S theatrical trailer services, scanning, recording, subtitling, 3D, on-set and digital cinema services. By Below The Line
The Hollywood Reporter speculates that Summit Entertainment will capitalize on the 3D trend as it begins production on its final film in the “Twilight” saga, “Breaking Dawn.” A decision from the studio is expected by the end of February. By The Hollywood Reporter
Sony Corp. has opened the Sony 3D Technology Center at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, CA, with the goal of training cinematographers, directors, game developers and others in the art and science of 3D production and post. By Studio Daily
It’s a problem that’s been looming for many months: 3D titles surging at a pace that was sure to outrun the number of screens available to exhibit them. Now, Warner’s decision to add the 3D conversion of “Clash of the Titans” to the mix appears to have finally jammed the works. By The Wrap
A Sony executive tells Bloomberg in Tokyo that the studio could begin marketing 3D versions of catalog films within a year’s time. “Companies specializing in conversion processes are starting up in India,” the Sony executive notes, “and the infrastructure is getting prepared.” Via New Zealand Herald