Are you willing to put on 3D glasses in the theater again — especially if today’s glasses are way cooler than those red-and-blue tinted ones, and the animation comes from the maker of Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda?
Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG, unveiled the new glasses and scenes from the studio’s 3D movie, “Monsters vs. Aliens,” at AMC River East 21 Theaters on Monday. The movie will be the first computer-generated animation story with a female lead, and will debut March 27.
Some facts about the glasses and the new technology:
• New 3D technology is easier on the eyes, so 3D movies no longer cause most people to vomit or get headaches.
• New 3D glasses no longer have a blue-tinted eye and a red-tinted eye; the latest technology enables the glasses to have polarized lenses, and look and feel like Ray-Bans.
• Today’s single digital movie projector in a theater sends pristine images versus the old side-by-side projectors set up to run in sync.
• The technology would initially thwart copying by moviegoers using camcorders to try to make a pirated copy.
• Movie distributors have agreed to finance a 3D rollout to help ease the costly transition for movie exhibitors.
• The 3D technology could be applied within several years to in-home products.
Katzenberg believes 3D is the third great revolution of movies, akin to the introduction of talkies in the 1920s and color in the 1930s. The technology has the ability to make movies “a singular, exceptional experience,” he said.
The 3D film technique is no longer a gimmick, Katzenberg said. The preview on Monday revealed how “Monsters vs. Aliens” tells the story of home-grown monsters trying to thwart an alien invasion of earth by seeming to place moviegoers inside the scenes. The movie is filled with subtle humor, with the star monster, Susan Murphy, voiced by Reese Witherspoon, and the president voiced by Stephen Colbert.
Katzenberg, a former board chairman at Disney Studios and former president of Paramount Studios, is traveling the world evangelizing the benefits of today’s 3D: Glasses look like Ray-Ban sunglasses and cost 85 cents each to manufacture and deliver to theaters; that DreamWorks and other studios’ investments in 3D will pan out, and that distributors will initially pay the $800 difference in the cost of a film print and a digital print to jump-start the 3D rollout. The cost of installing a digital projector and rewiring an existing movie theater is $75,000 per screen. To redo all the theaters worldwide would cost $10 billion.
“In my opinion, in five, six or seven years, all movies will be made in 3D,” Katzenberg said. Only 1,500 screens in the United States now show 3D. That number is expected to jump to 2,500 by early next year, and to 7,500 by summer 2010 when the next ”Shrek” movie is released.
Now to convince theater owners to immediately reconfigure at least a few of their screens for 3D movie showings, and to get people to cough up another $5 for the glasses or to buy their own 3D glasses at retail. Katzenberg is working with Luxottica Group to create a transition lens so theatergoers’ glasses could transition for the 3D theater.
He said, “I believe people will want to have their own glasses.”