Though still in the fledgling stage, 3-D animation is poised to be the next big frontier in the movie-making business. And DreamWorks Animation has plunged into this adventurous market beginning with its new movie “Monsters vs. Aliens”, scheduled for release in March. Intel is supporting this effort. So what’s the present and future of 3-D films? In an exclusive interaction with Rakesh Raman of My Techbox Online, John Batter, Co-President of Production for Feature Animation at DreamWorks Animation sheds light on the emerging 3-D scene.
Are you going to meet some market demand with 3-D animation movies or is it just a speculative experiment?
The industry is on the verge of a 3-D revolution – similar to the transition from black-and-white to color movies. Innovation in both exhibition and content creation technology means that 3-D movies today can be very high quality and incredibly immersive and, unlike 3-D in past decades, not just used as a gimmick. DreamWorks Animation is using 3-D as a new tool to enhance our stories and tell them in entirely new and innovative ways, beginning in March of next year (2009).
Can you quantify this demand?
Early indications are strong. Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour grossed $31M in only 683 venues, becoming the best-ever opening on Super Bowl weekend. Most recently, of Journey to the Center of the Earth’s opening weekend box office take, 57% came from the 854 theaters, or 30% of the total, equipped with 3-D. Overall, its 3-D screens outperformed the 2-D screens by 3 to 1.
Will there be special theaters for these movies? And how will you show them on other platforms like TV?
Over 1,100 3-D-capable, digital cinema screens are installed in over 800 locations across North America today. 3-D will undoubtedly find its way into the home in the future – it is only a question of when. DreamWorks Animation will continue to release both 3-D and CG versions of its films to ensure that all consumers have the ability to enjoy our movies in both formats.
It’s presumed that the cost of producing 3-D films will be much higher than the traditional ones? So pricing will also be high to offset costs. Will consumer be ready to pay?
There is an incremental cost of approximately 10% per film to make our films in 3-D. However, we are confident that the incremental cost will be more than offset by increased revenue. We strongly believe that consumers will be willing to pay a premium for a product of exceptional quality, which is what we plan to deliver.
Will you target only the developed markets like the US or parts of Europe with the 3-D content? Or will you go to the emerging mass markets also like China and India?
We will exhibit our films in 3-D across the world wherever 3-D-capable, digital cinema screens are available. DreamWorks Animation will continue to release both 3-D and CG versions of its films to ensure that all consumers have the ability to enjoy our movies in both formats.
What’s so special about Intel technology that you’ve decided to adopt it?
Intel provides DreamWorks Animation with powerful mulitcore processing technology required to meet the increased demands of creating 3-D animated feature films. The strategic alliance marks another important step in our ongoing 3-D initiative.
This article first appeared in My Techbox Online on Jul. 25, 2008.