monsters vs aliens

Jeffrey Katzenberg has been the film industry’s strongest proponent of 3-D over the past few years, and this weekend his advocacy will start paying dividends for Dreamworks Amimation. Monsters Vs. Aliens will debut with 4,104 playdates. That makes it the 13th-widest release in modern film history, and it becomes the biggest non-summer debut of all-time.

– with summer defined as May 1 – August 30 –
1. 3/27/09 – Monsters Vs. Aliens – 4,104 playdates
2. 11/07/08 – Madagascar 2 – 4,056 playdates
3. 10/01/04 – Shark Tale – 4,016
4. 3/31/06 – Ice Age: The Meltdown – 3,964
5. 3/14/08 – Dr. Suess’ Horton Hears A Who – 3,954

Many of those playdates are multiple screen engagements. In fact, MVA will be on over 7,000 screens. Screen counts are generally treated as “state secrets” at studios. Sony was able to secure a reported 10,000 screens for Spider-Man 3 with its 4,252 playdates back in May of 2007 (that’s an average of 2.35 screens per playdate). The all-time playdate record still belongs to The Dark Knight last July with 4,366, but TDK’s screen count was just over 9,200 (2.1 screens per location). Based on that calculation, Dreamworks/Paramount has on average 1.7 screens at each of its playdates.
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NOTE: I’ll just go over this one more time before we begin.  The current polarised lens, digital 3D system is superb; anaglyph systems don’t work one tenth as well. Bear that in mind as I share with you some anaglyphic 3D stills from films that will on release come in the digital fashion. These images don’t even hint at how well the actual film’s 3D will work.

Toy Story is being released in 3D this October, and our first look (though compromised, see above) has been revealed by Entertainment Weekly. Also in their gallery of 3D stills are Up, Monsters vs. Aliens, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Alpha and Omega. No Christmas Carol, no Final Destination and, most disappointing of all, no Avatar. Some samples below the break – but red/blue glasses will be necessary.

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Academy Award’s 2009 Movie Preview

sherlock holmes oscars

During the credits of the 81st Academy Awards, video clips were shown for many of the films that will hit theaters in 2009. You might have turned off the television after Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture and missed everything. Or maybe you just want to see the awesome Terminator Salvation footage or the first look at Public Enemiess again. If so, don’t worry, we have the whole 3-minute clip embedded after the jump.

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Monsters vs. Aliens 3D Super Bowl Ad

Despite having searched a couple different supermarkets, I was never able to get my hands on a pair of the free 3D glasses for the Monsters vs. Aliens 3D Super Bowl advertisement. But I’m sure many of you probably did, and might want to see the gimmick, i mean trailer again, in 3D. I’ve embedded the Monsters vs. Aliens 3D trailer after the jump thanks to Hulu. Enjoy.

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With more than a dozen digital 3D releases coming out this year (including James Cameron’s sure-to-be-megahit Avatar in December 2009), studios have a vested interest in making sure films can be viewed by the audience in the way they were intended. According to Variety, Paramount is now offering to pay “virtual” print fees directly to theater owners who convert at least 50% of their screens to digital, with a higher fee offered for screens converted to 3D. Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks Animation wants there to be more than 2,000 3D-enabled theater screens in the country when their Monsters vs. Aliens is released on March 27. Currently, there are only 1,250 digital screens (out of 5,620) that have 3D capability. Read More »

Last week I recieved a mysterious e-mail:

Happy New Year –

please keep a lookout for an exciting announcement crossing the AP Wire this
Sunday, January 4th concerning the new film, MONSTERS VS. ALIENS.
Ooze gonna’ save us in 2009?

I sent a inquiry out to my Twitter followers trying to figure out what the big announcement could be, but got no response. But today ComingSoon recieved a tip revealing all.

Apparently Monsters Vs. Aliens will be the first movie trailer in Superbowl (or maybe even television history?) to be broadcast in 3D. On February 1st, during the Superbowl, the 3D trailer will air. So where do you get the 3D glasses for this experiment? Well, as you might have heard, NBC is also airing a special 3D episode of Chuck later in the month (the trailer is likely to re-air in 3D at that time). Viewers will be instructed to pick up special glasses at any Sobe or Pepsi display at participating retailers to be able to watch the commercial and television show in 3D. I love the idea behind the concept, but the execution is pretty baffling.

Sadly, this is Anaglyphic 3D technology (aka Red eye/Blue eye)  which is 50 year old technology. I’ve heard Jeffrey Katzenberg speak about the dangers of the public’s perception of that old technology. His big pitch is that the new technology is far superior, and that the concept of Anaglyph is holding the 3D movement back. I’ve been a big supporter of DreamWorks Animation’s 3D workflow, and the technology, but this seems backwards, even to me. James Cameron has also been outspoken against studios using Anaglyphic technology for DVD releases.  So it seems strange that Katzenberg would use the old technology to promote the new technology. Almost sad.

Update: Apparently Anaglyphic 3D technology (aka Red eye/Blue eye) will not be employed for this stunt, even though red/blue glasses are shown in the television advertisements. The glasses will use Intel InTru 3D and ColorCode 3-D, and Katzenberg says it will be better than the old anaglphic technology but not anywhere close to that of today’s 3D digital cinema. But from what I understand, ColorCode 3-D is amber and blue lens, and is only a slight improvement on the old Anaglyphic technology.

photo credit tvbythenumbers

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Monsters vs. Aliens Movie Trailer #2

Dreamworks Animation has released the second full movie trailer for their computer animated sci-fi comedy Monsters vs. Aliens. This trailer is a little bit sillier than the last one, focusing more on the wacky monster characters who, turn out to be our only hope against an alien invasion. Leave your comments below.

[flv: 470 196]

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Variety reported this past week on some important goings-on in the world of 3D at the 3D Entertainment Summit in Century City. Apparently, 3D is the future of cinema (not surprising, given the summit’s title), but there were also some interesting statistics revealed:

  • Despite the growth in the number of 3D screens in America, they consistently generate twice the audience and three times the amount of revenue of 2D screens
  • The 3D screens playing Bolt, Meet the Robinsons, and Chicken Little outperformed their 2D counterparts by 2.5 to 1.
  • For Dreamworks Animation, the cost of making a film into 3D is an extra $15 million

One of the most significant quotes comes from Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks. According to Katzenberg, 3D is “a premium experience and has the consumer paying a premium price.” Katzenberg stated that Dreamworks will start charging $5 extra for their 3D films starting with Monsters vs. Aliens in 2009.

I’m quite ambivalent about this news. On the one hand, I understand that more work is required for 3D films, both from the producers of a film and from the theaters that must somehow project the images and have the infrastructure in place to distribute glasses, etc. On the other hand, I don’t feel like the quality of the 3D films I’ve seen recently (specifically Bolt and Beowulf which both would have cost me about $10-12), would have motivated me to fork over an extra $5 just to catch them in 3D.

Editors (Peter Sciretta) Note: In San Francisco, most theaters charge a $2.50 surcharge for 3D films, but I’m not sure if that is the case all around the country.

Discuss: Do guys think it’d be worth it?

New Monsters vs. Aliens Featurette

WiReD Magazine has a new featurette for DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens, which takes a look at all the crazy characters that are included in the film. Near the end of the clip you can see some of the new innovations that Dreamworks is bringing to 3D animated filmmaking. For example, the camera rig that allows them to virtually control a camera inside the 3D space within the virtual world. I got to visit the Dreamworks campus in July and see much of this new technology first hand (you can read my report here). I’m a Pixar guy, and probably always will be – no sense in hiding it. But it seems to me that Dreamworks Animation is way ahead of the game in the 3D space, and Monsters vs. Aliens will be a game-changer when it comes to watching a movie in 3D. Watch the new featurette after the jump.
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