Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Where The Hell Are Regal, Cinemark And AMC? Katzenberg Voicing 3D Concerns

In a recent interview by Variety with Jeff Katzenberg, JK expressed his displeasure with the big three theater chains namely Regal, Cinemark and AMC:

"In the last 30 days, things have not progressed as well as I had hoped, expected and, quite frankly, been committed to, by all the parties involved," Katzenberg said in response to an analyst's question. "It's ongoing as we speak literally now, but in terms of getting the big three (exhibitors: Regal, Cinemark and AMC) on board and actively moving forward, I feel as though things have dragged along, and it's been pretty disappointing."

I understand that budgeting for capital improvements can be tricky at best for these massive organizations, however if commitments have been made - and they have - then why the hell aren't they acting much more fluidly?

The theater chains don't stand to gain much more, if any, revenue from moving to digital projection. HOWEVER - digital projection is required for today's 3D technology (Real D, Dolby) where they can and WILL profit substantially through increased ticket prices; up to 50% more in some cases.

To ease the burden of moving to digital - even if they did not convert to 3D - the studios will pay a "Virtual Print Fee" to the theater chains because the studios save money by not having to print film reels and then distribute the very heavy canisters.

This isn't something that just recently surfaced either. John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners uncovered the slow moving theaters at NAB 2008 when he said "If the studios want this to happen in time for 2009, the deals have to be struck, and they have to be struck right now". They still haven't responded with the action required!

To be honest, the comments made by Fithian would have held much more water if he hadn't blamed Steven Spielberg for much of this inaction. As I posted earlier - that's ridiculous.

So where are we? Well let's see - we have:

1. The big three animation studios going fully 3D from now on - Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney have all committed to their future movies being 3D.
2. Massive budget 3D movies in production: Avatar for one with a $250m wallet (my projection).
3. Proven audience acceptance of 3D: "Beowulf" and Hannah Montana's concert movie both exceeded expectations. Even with increased ticket prices, the experience reigned supreme.
4. Overwhelming studio and directorial response to 3D: All major studios have 3D projects (see 3D movie list) - in FACT there are over 50 3D projects lined up to 2012 - and count James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, Tim Burton, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, and even upstart directors like Thomas Jane, as converts.
5. COMMITMENTS to roll out digital screens and 3D conversions over and above the existing ~1000 screens (See 3D theater list).

So, ummm - why the hell are the theater chains dragging their feet? Wake up and butter your toast guys; the time is NOW.

I invite representatives from those theater chains to get in touch with me via the "Contact Me" form below to present their side of things - until then, I am very disappointed as well. It's not just the studio executives you are letting down here guys - its the fans. Word is out.

Contact Me

Jim Dorey
Editor-in-Chief
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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