Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DreamWorks delays "Dragon" 3-D film to 2010

By Paul Bond
2 hours, 30 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) -
Mindful of a crowded
schedule for 3-D films late next year, DreamWorks Animation has
pushed its offering "How to Train Your Dragon" by four months
to March 26, 2010.

The move leaves the studio with just one release, "Monsters
vs. Aliens," scheduled for next year, and three for 2010:
"Dragon," "Shrek Goes Fourth" on May 21, and "Master Mind," the
working title of a film set for November 5 that year.

Had "Dragon" opened November 20, 2009, as previously
planned, it would have been sandwiched between 3-D films "A
Christmas Carol
" with Jim Carrey, and James Cameron's "Avatar."

"Avatar," in particular, presented a problem, as that
movie's December 18, 2009, opening would have coincided with
"Dragon's" international release, where as much as 65% of
DreamWorks Animation's business comes from.

"The combination of a jam-up domestically and the very
limited 3-D capacity internationally just didn't make sense,"
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said. "There will
not be anywhere near the number of screens needed to
accommodate two releases internationally."

A little more than 1,000 screens worldwide can handle 3-D
films, but Katzenberg expects from 3,000-5,000 by the time
"Monsters vs. Aliens" is released on March 27, 2009.

Katzenberg disclosed the "Dragons" move Tuesday during a
conference call with analysts to discuss quarterly earnings
that impressed Wall Street and sent shares 6% higher in
after-hours trading.

The CEO also hinted that "Bee Movie" might not make its way
to HD DVD in two weeks, as had been planned, given Toshiba's
decision to basically surrender the high-definition DVD format
war to Blu-ray Disc.

"We are waiting for Toshiba to tell us what their plans
are," he said, refusing to speculate whether "Bee Movie" might
get the Blu-ray treatment if HD DVD demures. "In deference to
them, we're waiting for clarity."

DreamWorks Animation reported net income of $94.1 million
in the fourth quarter, up from a loss of $21.3 million in the
same quarter a year ago. Revenue increased 42% to $290.2
million, with nearly 62% of that coming from "Shrek the Third."

As of December 31, the title boasted 15.6 million units
shipped worldwide. At the box office, it is the fourth-biggest
animated movie of all time, bringing in about $800 million

"Bee Movie," though, fell shy of many analysts'
expectations, bringing in $126 million at the domestic
boxoffice and $159 million internationally. "Bee Movie" cost
about $150 million to make, and a similar amount was budgeted
for its worldwide theatrical marketing campaign, the studio
said at the time of its North American release in November.

Although the film isn't yet profitable, that's expected to
change with the upcoming DVD release.

During the conference call, Katzenberg gave a shout-out to
his old employer, Walt Disney Co., telling analysts that
"Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert
Tour" proved again how lucrative 3-D movies can be.

That film generated $29 million over Super Bowl weekend at
683 theaters. At one theater, the El Capitan in Hollywood,
tickets cost as much $24 apiece.

Katzenberg said making a movie 3-D adds about $15 million
to its production cost. "There is significant enough potential
given the premium price that consumers appear to be paying for
3-D to be a very good return on our investment," he said.

DreamWorks Animation's next two releases, "Kung Fu Panda,"
set for June 6, and "Madagascar: The Crate Escape," planned for
November 7, are 2-D releases. From then on, the company plans
for its films to be exhibited both in 2-D and stereoscopic 3-D.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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