Jeffrey Katzenberg, that is (no one asked my opinion ...)
In a front-page Hollywood Reporter article (that, rather bizarrely, doesn't mention Meet The Robinsons), Katzenberg touted the potential of the 3-D format to boost theatrical revenues.
He said that moviegoers will gladly pay up to a 50% premium to watch 3-D films in a theater and that such a scenario will make the debate over collapsing distribution windows largely irrelevant. He noted that the exhibition industry hasn't used variable pricing strategies to boost its fortunes nearly to the extent that other industries have.
And one more added benefit[, he said]: 3-D movies can't be easily pirated.
[According to Katzenberg,] Robert Zemeckis, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are embracing 3-D, and George Lucas is giving "Star Wars" the 3-D treatment.
"Once the alphas start to move, the herd gets restless and others start to follow," Katzenberg said.
Katzenberg opined that Casino Royale and The Departed would have done better in 3-D. He suggested that re-releases of 3-D versions of The Godfather, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia would be profitable. He also said Disney/Pixar is planning Toy Story 3 in 3-D, although a Disney rep refused to confirm.
Film history buffs will remind us, of course, that 3-D movies are nothing new: William Friese-Greene patented a 3-D movie process in the 1890s. In the 1950s, of course, Hollywood saw a phenomenon with many parallels to today, as Hollywood studios, faced with declining revenues due to television, touted the stereoscopic 3-D process as the savior of the theatrical feature.
At first, the so-called "stereoscopic" 3-D format was tested on B movies such as Bwana Devil and Three Stooges shorts. But by 1953 several studios were releasing big movies in 3-D such as The French Line starring Jane Russell (left) , with the tag line "It'll knock both of your eyes out!". Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder and the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate came out in 3-D.
The process was crude -- two prints had to be shown from separate projectors in perfect synchronization, and if one print was damaged the other had to be mangled in exactly the same way or both were useless. Eventually, exhibitors saw more potential in Cinerama to wow moviegoers back into theaters.
The fad faded away as fast as it had come in, and the last 3-D feature of the stereoscopic age was released in February 1955. Attempts to revive the process continued through the 1960s and 1970s, mostly in B movies and soft-core porn.
Recently, of course, we have seen Polar Express and Chicken Little in limited-release 3-D format. And tomorrow ... well, tomorrow, Meet The Robinsons will be showing in 3-D in over 600 theaters.
Is Jeffrey right? Will we see a resurgence of theatrical features due to the improved technology? Or will the prints of these movies end up in revival-house festivals alongside Cat Women Of The Moon, Flesh For Frankenstein and The Stewardesses?
Time will tell.