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Fox Hopes ‘I, Robot’ 3D Blu-ray Release Starts a Trend

12 Oct, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

CENTURY CITY, Calif. — It seems everyone at 20th Century Fox is excited about a Blu-ray Disc re-release of an eight-year-old film. The entire home entertainment unit, the studio’s PR team, even the person running the prop department.

“We’re excited about [it]; we get to see it all over again,” said Gianna Babando, director of archives for the studio.

“It” is the 2004 Will Smith flick I, Robot (2005 Oscar winner for best special effects), and the reason Fox is so excited is because the Oct. 23 3D Blu-ray combo pack re-release is believed to be a first for home entertainment: a major, catalog, non-3D theatrical release re-mastered specifically for 3D Blu-ray.

Fox executives say it won’t be the last non-3D major catalog film (The Simpsons Movie maybe?) that will be re-mastered for 3D Blu-ray, and the hope is that digging deeper into the library for 3D Blu-ray will help drive 3DTV and 3D Blu-ray player adoption.

Rodney Brown, executive director of marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, said I, Robot was the perfect choice for a 3D Blu-ray conversion, and the timing couldn’t be better with another fourth-quarter industry push for 3D in the home.

“[I, Robot] was successful for us on Blu-ray [2008],” he said. “It looks like this film was made for 3D. We think it looks fantastic.”

In part, Fox has JVC Kenwood to thank for the eye-popping 3D results. The hardware technology company developed a 2D-3D conversion process that saves both time and money, without hurting the results, according to Dave Walton, assistant VP of marketing for JVC.

Danny Kaye, EVP of global research and technology with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, said the pressure is on for studios to offer more 3D content for the home, and to do it right.

Avatar [3D Blu-ray] kicked it off in a pretty big way, and set a high bar,” he said. “There’s a lot of controversy [regarding 3D] and some of it is warranted.”

Ian Harvey, SVP of advanced technology for 20th Century Fox, went frame by frame for the 2D-3D conversion of I, Robot, looking for depth potential with every scene, even approving the addition of added special effects for certain scenes. Between the studio's 2D-3D experience with I, Robot and JVC’s technology, the amount of time it takes to convert 2D content to 3D will grow shorter by the day, he said.

“There are so many [great] scenes in the film, somebody should have done 3D in the first place,” he said.

Bonus features for the Oct. 23 release include a commentary, a making-of featurette, a photo gallery and more.

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