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Shifting Dimensions

22 Jul, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey


Don’t call 3D films a fad. Not with box office receipts from 3D screens often outpacing those from the 2D version, and not with companies such as DreamWorks Animation producing all its films for 3D.

Major studios are producing more than just animation in 3D. New Line and Warner Bros. have The Final Destination coming in 3D in August, and 20th Century Fox is expected to show extended 3D scenes of James Cameron’s Avatar at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International. And as 3D grows in theaters, it’s only natural to expect the technology to trickle down to home video.

“Home video aficionados will begin to expect the same experience in-home as in the theater, not unlike the evolution of surround sound,” says industry analyst Russ Crupnick of The NPD Group.

Nearly a decade ago, 3D on DVD ventures required a hardware system that had to be hooked up to the TV. Today the studios are including anaglyph (two-color) glasses with their 3D home video releases, most recently with Universal’s stop-motion fantasy Coraline.

“The first time I saw a 3D footage test on Coraline, my jaw just dropped,” says Neil Gaiman, who wrote the Coraline novella. “I had never seen 3D look so good, and the sense of reality from the stop-motion animation made it closer to a live-action movie.”
Dakota Fanning, who voiced Coraline, agrees.

“It looks so much better with the glasses!” she says.

Coraline is just the latest 3D home video release in 2009, following 3D releases for Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience, Friday the 13th Part III and My Bloody Valentine. Disney-Pixar’s mega-hit Up should arrive on home video later this year. Paramount’s Sept. 29 DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases of DreamWorks’ Monsters vs. Aliens — the first computer-animated film produced in stereoscopic 3D — will come packaged with the 3D movie B.O.B.’s Big Break and four pairs of 3D glasses.

And proving 3D on disc works for more than animation and horror, Shout! Factory released the comedy-drama The Stewardesses: 40th Anniversary in 3D. Based on its profit-to-cost ratio, The Stewardesses ranks as the most successful 3D movie of all time, according to Shout! Factory.

“Some have expressed concern that this higher-quality theatrical experience will make the DVD less attractive,” says
Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. “We don’t agree.”

Only in the past couple of years have studios included glasses for 3D versions of movies on DVD and Blu-ray: Fly Me to the Moon, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Polar Express, Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds Concert, Adventures of SharkBoy and LavaGirl, Shrek 3D and Spy Kids 3D: Game Over.

Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, says his CGI movies have been shown in 3D overseas, and he hopes that American DVD fans will have the same opportunity.

“The market here is still a bit young for 3D,” he says.

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