Tag Archives: DreamWorks

Katzenberg: 3-D vision goes beyond animation

SINGAPORE — It’s a 3-D world, and Jeffrey Katzenberg thinks it’s time to reflect that on the big screen — and not just in animated films.

“In five to seven years, all films, regardless of budgets or type, will be made in 3-D,” the DreamWorks Animation boss said here Wednesday during his keynote at the inaugural 3DX Film and Entertainment Technology Festival.

“3-D is how we see, how we take things in. It’s natural,” Katzenberg said. “This is not a gimmick, it’s an opportunity to immerse the audience, to heighten the experience.”

He added that the migration to 3-D will happen on all screens, including mobile phones and laptops.

Katzenberg was joined by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi and others in stressing the industry’s commitment to 3-D as the future of film.

Moviegoers’ early response is clear, Zoradi said, citing the success of such 3-D titles as “Chicken Little” and “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.”

“Consumers clearly prefer 3-D if they have a choice,” he said, adding that 3-D films could bring in two to three times the business of a 2-D release.

Zoradi touted his studio’s new five-picture deal with Imax, which will kick off with Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” in November 2009, adding that the slate could involve projects from Tim Burton and Jerry Bruckheimer, though no details were disclosed.

Producer John Landau, now working with James Cameron on “Avatar,” said that 3-D would “do for cinema what stereo did for the audio industry.”

All the film industry has to do is “demystify” 3-D for consumers, whose perception of 3-D may be of “gimmicks on B films” and “theme parks that forced things off the screen,” Landau said.

Zoradi’s presentation Wednesday included the first public screening of 3-D footage from “Beauty and the Beast” (originally released in 1991), which Disney is re-rendering for a 2010 release, as well as Disney’s “Tron 2,” set for 2011 or 2012.

The addition of “Beauty and the Beast” brings Disney’s number of digital 3-D releases for 2009-10 to 11, with another six to come in 2011. This would give Disney more than 50% of all 3-D releases during the next three years; 11 of those would be animated.

“The biggest barrier (to 3-D) is not product, it’s the installed base of digital cinemas,” Zoradi said.

Katzenberg predicted that 35%-40% of admissions for March DWA release “Monsters vs Aliens” will be for 3-D. For a film coming out 15 months later, he envisions 80%-85% of admissions for the company’s next “Shrek” installment to be for 3-D.

Stressing the technical advances that made the latest incarnation of 3-D different from past efforts, Katzenberg said 3-D “will bring people back to the movies who have stopped going.”

“This is not my father’s 3-D,” he said. “There’s no ghosting, no eye strain and best of all, you don’t throw up. Throwing up is not good for anyone’s business.”

All agreed that 3-D’s ability to immerse audiences in the film is the key.

“There is nothing more immersive than 3-D,” Landau said. “On ‘Titanic,’ our goal was to use visual effects to make people feel part of the film. With ‘Avatar,’ we’re using technology to transport people to another world.”

Katzenberg said that theatrical digital 3-D represents a “unique opportunity for cinemas” to create an experience that consumers could not get at home, “and it will be many years before they can.”

Among the reasons cited was the fact that light diminishes the quality of the image.

“The only place in the home to replicate this is in the coat closet … and I would not want to spend two hours there watching a movie,” he said.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Spielberg, Jackson digging for ‘Tintin’

Tintin may have a new benefactor.

Filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are in the process of trying to line up a co-financing and co-distribution partner for their in-the-works trilogy of “Tintin” films, set up at Paramount Pictures. The director-producers are trying to entice Sony Pictures, which is now in discussions with Paramount, to help finance the films and take on international distribution.

Universal Pictures, which just entered into a seven-year distribution deal with the newly separated DreamWorks, of which Spielberg is a principal, last month declined to finance half of the first picture at a $130 million price tag.

At that time, Paramount quickly offered to finance the entire project, but the terms of the offer provoked the filmmakers to look for other options. Both Spielberg and Jackson, as two of the most successful and powerful director-producers in Hollywood, are accustomed to large back-end arrangements.

Should a deal close, Sony will not have a role in the creative development of the films, the first of which Spielberg is already in the process of directing. Jackson plans to direct the second.

Under the purported terms of the deal being negotiated, first reported by the New York Times, Paramount would retain distribution of the films in North America and several other English-seaking territories. This would seem to put the Melrose studio at a disadvantage given Tintin’s enduring appeal outside of the States, where he is much less well known.

Spielberg has long been trying to make films about the famously intrepid, globetrotting young reporter. The director is using motion-capture technology to bring the character, created by Belgian artist Herge, to life. It is scheduled for release in 2010.

The Spielberg camp had no comment on the potential deal.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

New financier for DreamWorks

The emergence of Reliance as DreamWorks’ principal new financier marks the latest and most dramatic example of talent — and their agents — aligning with outsiders and using other people’s money.

Beyond emerging as DreamWorks’ principal new financier, the Indian company closed development deals with seven Hollywood heavyweights.

At Cannes last month, Reliance trumpeted deals with seven production companies headed by high-profile thesps and this week pacted to pay each company at least $1.2 million-$2 million to develop projects.

The development-fund arrangements with the septet — Nicolas Cage’s Saturn Prods., Jim Carrey’s JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney’s Smokehouse Prods., Chris Columbus’ 1492 Pictures, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and Jay Roach’s Everyman Pictures — gives each enough coin to purchase material without a studio’s help.

All of the players are repped by CAA.

Reliance will commit funds based on its approval of a project’s concept, then gets the option to half-finance the film generated. It also will get distrib rights in India. It will be treated as a producer if it doesn’t want to add more financing to the projects.

CAA represents the lion’s share of film gross players in Hollywood and thus has the greatest incentive to find alternative sources of financing and deal templates with studios at a time when the traditional first-dollar gross deal is becoming an endangered species.

Reliance makes its Hollywood move after CAA guided another Indian conglom, UTV, to a deal to develop and potentially finance a slate of projects generated by Overbrook Entertainment partners Will Smith and James Lassiter and to be distributed by Sony.

Then UTV followed with a bold deal with multihyphenate M. Night Shyamalan to co-finance thriller “The Happening,” just released by Fox.

Under that arrangement, Shyamalan traded his first-dollar gross participation for 25% ownership of the pic’s copyright and a cash break arrangement that allows him to share 50% of the film’s revenue stream once UTV and Fox recoup budget and P&A costs. After a strong opening weekend, that deal looks like it could pay off for Shyamalan, who brought the film in at about $50 million. It has grossed nearly $70 million worldwide after six days.

Reliance’s deals with Cage, Carrey, Clooney, Columbus, Hanks, Pitt and Roach will potentially give that talent the opportunity to fashion a finished script that can be shopped to studios along with 50% of the film’s financing. That will allow the talent to make the most favorable deal possible, because if a studio doesn’t want to pay a star or director’s usual gross deal, the package can be shopped to another studio.

While CAA is steering Reliance at a deliberately measured pace, the Indian conglom likely sees the arrangement as getting its foot in the door. Reliance may well finance the films itself and make a distribution deal with a studio.

Source: Variety

DreamWorks exit could hurt Paramount

Steven Spielberg aims to raise more than $1 billion in third-party financing to reinvent DreamWorks as a separate company that once again owns the movies it makes.

As for distribution, Spielberg wants to bolt his roost at Paramount for Universal, which wants to land Spielberg and DreamWorks after losing out to Paramount in that quest a couple years ago. But on recommendation from his advisers, Spielberg has allowed a bidding war to begin among studios for the rights to distribute future DreamWorks movies.

The chief suitors other than Paramount: Universal, Disney and Fox.

Warner Bros. has sat out the competition so far despite previous expectations that the studio would seek a relationship with DreamWorks if Spielberg and company were to leave Paramount. Industry betting runs heavily against Spielberg’s staying put at Paramount, with the related question of where he and the DreamWorks film label land considered a simple matter of who will offer sufficiently attractive terms to attract Spielberg, chief Stacey Snider and their brand.

“Stacey is the next generation, and Steven is very committed to her,” said one participant in DreamWorks strategy meetings.

Spielberg’s contract runs until 2010, but he can terminate it early at year’s end. Snider and DreamWorks chairman David Geffen have similar escape clauses in their deals with Par, while about 100 other DreamWorks employees theoretically would be unaffected by departures among the top execs.

Yet Spielberg will wield considerable leverage in any exit negotiations with Par and could insist on taking additional execs with him as he reconstructs DreamWorks elsewhere. Although Par owns “Transformers” and other films produced by DreamWorks while at the studio, Spielberg’s rights regarding involvement on sequels could trigger negotiations over which films he brings with him and which would remain under Par’s control.

A window in Spielberg’s personal contract with Par opened May 1, allowing him to discuss potential offers for his services from rival studios. Since then, Spielberg or such advisers as Geffen and attorney Skip Brittenham have held several meetings with prospective studio suitors and financiers.

Still, there is the argument — offered a few months back by Par execs amid early handicapping of Spielberg’s future — that early ill-will between DreamWorks brass and their Par overlords has been smoothed over. Par boosted DreamWorks’ production funding and even credit on DreamWorks/Par releases during the course of the former’s residency on the lot.

But barring a complete revision of his current arrangement at Par, only bolting the studio would allow Spielberg again to stake actual ownership claim to his future films. He participated in just that through the original DreamWorks SKG, but Spielberg at Par essentially is a producer and director of films owned by others, backend deals on individual films notwithstanding.

Even the DreamWorks name is controlled neither by Spielberg nor Par but by Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation. If Spielberg were to exit Paramount, DWA could withdraw rights to the name from Par and presumably grant them to Spielberg.

DWA’s distribution contract with Par runs through 2012.

Meanwhile, it appears that Spielberg’s hunt for financing could lead to DreamWorks securing a bank facility to fund production as well as private-equity investment.

Yet this time around, it’s likely that the latter would be much more limited than the one-time majority stake in DreamWorks SKG by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. DWA went public in 2004 and DreamWorks $1.6 billion sale to Par a year later both were prompted by Allen’s desire to cash out his interest in DeamWorks.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

NAB focus on 3-D

3-D stepped to the forefront at NAB on Monday.

The entire day at the Content Theater was devoted to 3-D case studies and demonstrations, and technology partners DreamWorks Animation and Hewlett-Packard got into the act in a separate presentation.

One Content Theater highlight was a live 3-D closed-circuit television transmission from Burbank with Howie Mandel and his “Deal or No Deal” exec producer Scott St. John applying the technology to a gameshow format they’re developing: “Would You Rather…,” based on the existing game title.

The transmission was shown on a projection screen and on specially modified flat-panel HD displays from Hyundai. Produced with technology from 3ality, the company best known for its work on “U2 3D,” the demo used the same “passive” Real D polarized glasses used in many movie theaters, unlike the “active” shuttered glasses needed for most 3-D capable TV sets now available.

Steve Schklair, topper at 3ality, said the satellite feed used the same bandwidth as a standard 2-D transmission.

DreamWorks Animation used the platform of a presentation with its technology partner Hewlett-Packard to tubthump its 3-D brand: DreamWorks Ultimate 3-D, in which the film is made in 3-D along the entire pipeline. DreamWorks Entertainment chairman Roger Enrico tubthumped the brand, saying, “The difference from what’s been done before is so great we needed a new name.”

Enrico showed a clip from the upcoming “Kung-Fu Panda” in Ultimate 3-D, with digital projection by Real D. Clip was notable for crisp images, especially for a temporary theater, and for the lack of the usual spears-flying-into-your-face gimmicks often used to tout 3-D.

More substantively, DreamWorks and HP also announced a new flat-panel monitor system, monikered DreamColor, aimed at providing ideal color fidelity for digital artists at one-quarter the cost of a high-end monitor.

DreamWorks Animation topper Jeffrey Katzenberg, in taped remarks, called color fidelity “a longstanding challenge throughout the film industry and especially the animation industry”; DWA, he added, had asked HP for “a solution that would do for video fidelity what THX did for audio fidelity.”

Source: Variety

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