The First 3D Showdown Will Take Place In Summer 2009

With 3D becoming the emerging format in the Hollywood scene, I always believed it was only a matter of time before we would see two films go head to head in the third dimension. And it looks like Memorial Day 2009 will be that day, pitting James Cameron's AVATAR up against DreamWorks Monsters vs. Aliens.

Today only 750 screens are equipped with the digital projection technology to allow 3D projection, but that is expected to change. Jeffrey Katzenberg has told people that he wanted to debut Monsters vs. Aliens on 6,000 screens. I'm not sure the exhibitors will buy that quickly into the digital technology. I think it's more reasonable to expect a few thousand screens at most by that date. But the real problem is that both Fox and DreamWorks want to do a wide release. Exhibitors are nervous that they will be asked to choose, because most theaters don't have the cash ($50,000 per screen) to invest in a digital upgrade.

I still believe that the only way Hollywood will get the exhibitors to preform the massive equipment upgrades is to help pay for some of the costs. After-all, the movie theaters will save a lot of money without having to develop and distribute film prints. But at the same time, I can see things from the point of view of the studios. Why should they pay when the theater will be the one benefitting from the extra 3D traffic. George Lucas tried to force this change without much success. I wonder if this DreamWorks vs. Fox 3D showdown will do much better.