Tag Archives: Jeffrey Katzenberg

Dreamworks Animation and Barco Pact For 3D Audio

Rise of the Guardians in Barco Auro 11.1As one of the early and most vocal advocates for digital 3D, it should come as no surprise that Jeffrey Katzenberg is also interested in adding dimension to audio soundtracks. On Thursday Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation, was on hand at a press event in Los Angeles to announce an agreement to distribute the studios next 15 titles with Barco Auro 11.1 3D sound mixes. The first film to be released under the new agreement will be “Rise of the Guardians” on November 21st.

Auro is an 11.1 sound format that Barco has been helping develop for the past several years. Based on audio technology from Auro Technologies, the format places audio in three separate layers placing sounds in traditional surround speakers, a set of height speakers and speakers mounted overhead on the ceiling. Rather than being track based, Auro allows for sounds to be placed as objects within an auditorium.

“At Dreamworks we really pride ourselves on using the finest state of the art technology, first to put in the hands of our storytellers in order to create the best possible experience for moviegoers and then look to the best possible technology for the presentation,” Katzenberg explained. “It’s why we’re here partnering with Barco so we can provide 3D sound that is every bit as spectacular as the 3D images.”

Before selecting Auro, Dreamworks Animation did their due diligence and investigated some of the emerging 3D formats making their way to market, such as Dolby’s Atmos and Iosono. “It became very clear to us that Barco’s Auro 11.1 3D audio format is actually the best,” said Katzenberg. “We believe they are going to be leaders int he market and we believe they are going to create a very valuable experience for our customers and also what will be a very attractive opportunity for our partners in exhibition.”

When pressed about a direct comparison to Atmos, Katzenberg said with a tinge of humor. “This is better.” He quickly turned more serious to mention another key factor in Dreamworks Animation’s selection of Auro. “I can not emphasize enough that the Barco financial proposition for the exhibitors is far more attractive, far more doable and far more practical. The ability that this will be able to roll out worldwide and be something that is affordable is critical. This is the highest quality and affordability. You can not separate those two.”

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Katzenberg Discouraged Over Decline Of 3D

Jeffrey Katzenberg

Jeffrey Katzenberg

There has been no greater champion of 3D than Dreamworks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg. Except maybe filmmaker James Cameron, there have been few, if any, industry cheerleaders as vocal about 3D than Katzenberg. As far back as 2007, Katzenberg could be heard at trade shows and in the press hailing digital 3D as “the single most revolutionary change since color pictures”.

To paraphrase an old cliché, Katzenberg should be careful what he wishes for, he just might get it. Four years after he began touting the new motion picture format digital 3D films have flooded the market in search of incremental box office from ticket surcharges. Though as a string of movies featuring poor 3D conversions hit theaters during a global economic downturn, a majority of moviegoers are choosing the 2D version of recent releases such as Dreamworks’ “Kung Fu Panda 2″.

Now Katzenberg is lamenting the “decline of 3D”, calling it “heartbreaking” in an interview published earlier today by The Hollywood Reporter. Katzenberg stated:

“I think 3D is right smack in the middle of its terrible twos. We have disappointed our audience multiple times now, and because of that I think there is genuine distrust — whereas a year and a half ago, there was genuine excitement, enthusiasm and reward for the first group of 3D films that actually delivered a quality experience. Now that’s been seriously undermined. It’s not in any fashion, shape or form the demise of 3D, but until there are 3D experiences that exceed people’s expectations, it’s going to stay challenged. It’s really heartbreaking to see what has been the single greatest opportunity that has happened to the film business in over a decade being harmed. The audience has spoken, and they have spoken really loudly.”

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Will “Clash” Unleash A Titanic Backlash Against 3D?

Clash of the TitansRelease the Kraken,” Liam Neeson’s Zeus commands in the WB’s “Clash of the Titans” re-make, but Hollywood should be more concerned that the film itself might release a backlash against the 3D format. There are several indicators that point to a perfect storm brewing against what has come to be regarded as the cinema industry’s digital savior.

Amongst Hollywood filmmakers there has been unusually vociferous attacks against Warner Bros.’ decision to go for a rushed eight-week conversion of “Clash of the Titans” to 3D.  The conversion is a true test for Prime Focus whose technology is unproven on such large scale projects.  Fresh off the global success of “Avatar” James Cameron weighed in against “slapdash conversion” in a recent BBC article that re-hashed Mike Fleming’s more in-depth Deadline article, where Cameron said that after the success of his award-winning epic:

“Now, you’ve got people quickly converting movies from 2D to 3D, which is not what we did. They’re expecting the same result, when in fact they will probably work against the adoption of 3D because they’ll be putting out an inferior product.”

Micheal Bay threw more fuel on the fire in a Deadline post and even appeared to take a direct swipe at Prime Focus, an Indian based post-production company that has been doing the bulk of the work on “Clash of the Titans’” conversion from 2D-to-3D :

“I’m used to having the A-team working on my films, and I’m going to hand it over to the D-team, have it shipped to India and hope for the best? This conversion process is always going to be inferior to shooting in real 3D. Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I’m not.  “Avatar” took four years. You can’t just sh*t out a 3D movie. I’m saying, the jury is still out.”

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Katzenberg Keynotes 3D Entertainment Summit

3d-entertainment-summit

Jeffery Katzenberg suggested that if exhibition doesn’t grab the 3D opportunity, “it will go down as one of the real great misses of our time.”

He shared his thoughts about 3D, both for the theater and the home, Thursday at the 3D Entertainment Summit in Los Angeles, during a keynote discussion with Bob Dowling, Summit co-producer and conference chair.

On theater pricing, he said: “Exhibition has been incredibly timid about (pricing). Every piece of research we did showed the consumers felt they got a valuable experience at a $5 premium and almost no one adopted (the premium).”

The Dreamworks Animation CEO commented: “I find it amazingly curious how slow the live action business has been at jumping on this opportunity.” And the 3D champion also admitted that he perhaps went too far in predicting that all content would go 3D, adding that it “dampened his credibility.”

Commenting on Technicolor’s 3D approach, he said: “I’ve seen it in a controlled environment. I’ve yet to see it in a large theater, but the early demonstrations looked pretty good. It’s not ideal but we are in an economy unlike anything we faced in our lifetime. So to me, that’s an interim step.”

Katzenberg noted that theater owners have had a few years head start, but “rollout into the home is going to pick up serious momentum next year.”

During the well attended event, he predicted that sports and games would drive 3D to the home faster than other types of entertainment. As to broadcast, Katzenberg noted that with Disney’s work in the 3D arena, he expects “real leadership” from ESPN.

The two-day event at the Hilton in University City featured a conference program and exhibits from companies including 3Ality Digital, Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Sensio and NVidia.

Top Execs Ponder Industry’s Future At ShoWest Panel

ShoWest 2009 - Industry Confronts Its Future Panel MembersThe first day of ShoWest has historically been held as an international day where exhibitors from around the world can attend panels that cover issues and topics that relate directly to their markets.  In an attempt to bring attendees in a day earlier this year, ShoWest did away with “International Day” and instead jumped right into the convention with a lunchtime keynote address from Jim Gianopoulos, Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment followed by a panel discussion on current trends in the exhibition industry.

Sitting on the panel, entitled “How To Stay Ahead of the Curve as the Industry Confronts Its Future”, was Rory Bruer, President of Worldwide Distribution at Sony Pictures, Andrew Cripps, President of Paramount Pictures International, Dan Harkins, CEO of Harkins Theatres, Paul Heth, President and General Director of Rising Star Media, Lee Roy Mitchell, the Chairman of Cinemark and Tim Richards, CEO and President of Vue EntertainmentJeffrey Katzenberg, Chairman of Dreamworks Animation, decided to join in on the panel after addressing those gathered to thank them for the huge opening of his studio’s 3D feature “Monsters vs. Aliens”.  Though many of these guests are panel regulars at such conferences, the mixture of exhibitors and distributors at such discussions usually makes for a an interesting hour.  Monday’s panel, moderated by Hollywood Reporter editor Elizabeth Guider, was no exception.

The first topic that Guider brought up was, not surprisingly, the increase in box office grosses.  Read More »

Katzenberg Gets Journalistic Spanking By LA Times

Jeffrey Katzenberg may be the Moses trying to lead the industry to the Promised 3D Digital Land, but judging by this article from the LA Times (Jeffrey Katzenberg in 3-D: Hollywood is rolling its eyes), his leadership may be in question.  Patrick Goldstein, the articles author, takes Katzenberg to task for a number of recent events, ranging from the DreamWorks-Disney deal to the issue surrounding the closure of the the hospital and long-term care facility at its Woodland Hills retirement home, for which Katzenberg was the chief fundraiser.

But the article hangs the biggest question mark over the DreamWorks Animation’s head honcho’s strategy when it comes to Digital 3D and the studio’s imminent release:

Katzenberg’s biggest P.T. Barnum stunt of all — spending a reported $9 million to wow Super Bowl viewers with a 3-D ad for DreamWorks’ upcoming “Monsters vs. Aliens” 3-D film — was a fiasco, creating a backlash against Katzenberg’s own very public 3-D crusade. The blogosphere was full of mockery of the stunt. As SpoutBlog put it in a recent post: “Katzenberg may have done irreversible damage” by attempting to advertise “Monsters vs. Aliens” “by way of an anaglyphic 3D Super Bowl commercial necessitating outdated red/blue glasses.” To say that the ad missed its target audience would be an understatement. When Cinematical did a poll asking for reaction to the ad, the biggest segment of voters — 41% — checked the box saying: “I never picked up the glasses to begin with.”

The reaction was so bad that the chief executive of RealD Cinema, the company that does the projection technology used on a number of 3-D films, including “Monsters vs. Aliens,” had to issue a statement distancing his company from the Super Bowl ad, saying: “It’s important to recognize that today’s RealD in theaters is a quantum leap better than what they saw on TV.”

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Paramount Goes Direct-To-Exhibitors With D-Cinema Deal

Paramount Pictures LogoOn the eve of the National Association of Theatre Owners’ meeting with equipment vendors to review digital cinema requirements on Friday, Paramount Pictures has thrown the exhibition industry a curve ball in the hopes of resuscitating the stalled rollout of the technology.  Rather than work solely through integrators such as Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP) and Cinedigm (formerly AccessIT), Paramount has become the first Hollywood studio to offer North American exhibitors financial assistance for digital cinema installations.

What’s significant about Paramount’s announcement is that previously studios have refused to cut deals to reimburse exhibitors for digital cinema installations directly with exhibitors for fear of future anti-trust litigation.  Instead, they relied on digital cinema systems integrators to provide a buffer between themselves and theatre owners.  But, with the digital cinema rollout at a near stand still, Paramount seems to be throwing caution to the winds.

Paramount has a vested interest in seeing digital cinema take off, specifically to increase the number of 3-D capable projection systems. This March the studio will be releasing Dreamworks Animations’ “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 3-D and presently the United States and Canada only have about 1,200 screens properly equipped with 3-D systems.  Paramount has been promoting the film heavily for nearly a year at industry trade shows and will be airing a 3-D commercial for the movie during the upcoming Super Bowl telecast.
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Hollywood’s 3D Dilemma Goes Mainstream

For months now the debate over the lagging rollout of digital 3D equipped screens has been argued by both distributors and exhibitors alike, mostly in public statements to industry media outlets. Well, on Thursday, the issue jumped from trade publications and trade show speeches, to the front page of the Los Angeles Times Calendar section. Industry insiders who have been following the story since it began in March will find the article of little value, as it is mostly a rehash of the current situation, however it is noteworthy if only because a major mainstream media outlet found the dilemma important enough to cover.

Journey’s 3-D PosterThe story was written by John Horn, a respected L.A. Times entertainment journalist for more than two decades who recently won the Los Angeles Press Club’s entertainment Journalist of the Year award. Using the pending release of “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and the need to drop “3D” from it’s title as his lead, Horn thoroughly laid out all the main facts and issues so that even a layman could talk about the subject like an expert.

He starts out saying only 800 theatres in North America (which account for roughly 1,200 screens) would be able to show “Journey” in 3D and that Warner Bros. had to augment it’s marketing campaign to let audiences know that the film would also be shown in 2D on about 2,000 screens. He points out that 2D Hollywood releases such as DreamWorks Animation’s 2D “Kung Fu Panda” open on more than 4,100 screens. And he doesn’t leave out that DreamWork’s head Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the industry’s leading 3D proponents, has been upset over the slow speed in which exhibitors are installing the digital 3D equipment.

Horn goes on to detail how the low number of screens poses a problem for studios who have plans to release at least nine 3D features next year, including some by renown filmmakers such as James Cameron (”Avatar”) and Robert Zemeckis (”A Christmas Carol”). Disney, DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox stand to lose the most. While exhibitors also stand to miss out on the increased revenue which will come from the higher ticket prices charged for 3D releases, Horn explains that the high cost of digital cinema equipment is keeping them from upgrading their auditoriums.

He pegs the cost of a digital cinema conversion at a whopping $150,000, which seems to be an exorbitant figure no doubt provided by an exhibitor. Another slight misstatement by Horn is the confusion exhibitors have over the two 3D formats; RealD and Dolby. While these two companies (they aren’t really formats) are definitely the market leaders, certainly NuVision and masterImage may be upset over not being mentioned. Those are about the only two gaffs in the L.A. Times feature, as Horn goes on to properly highlight the stalemate between exhibitors and distributors over virtual print fees (VPFs) meant to finance the rollout of digital cinema.

To be sure, all of this is not news to anyone working in exhibition (or distribution), but at the very least Horn should be credited with writing one of the most accurate statements about the world-wide digital cinema rollout to date:

“At a time when the rest of the media world is transforming at light speed, movie exhibition is struggling to keep up. . .”

Katzenberg Sees The Future and It’s In 3D

Jeffrey KatzenbergAs previously reported here the big buzz this year at ShowEast is definitely digital 3D. In case there were still any doubters here at ShowEast, DreamWorks Animation topper Jeffrey Katzenberg turned up on Tuesday morning to preach the 3D gospel to 1,000 or so attendees at a breakfast sponsored by Technicolor Digital Cinema and Barco Digital Cinema. Joining Katzenberg on the panel, which was moderated by NATO CEO John Fithian, was Chris Johnson, president of Chicago based Classic Cinemas.

Some of what Katzenberg had to say was recycled from a talk he gave NATO earlier this year. He explained that when DreamWorks was first started, there would be five or six animated movies a year, each being considered special. But with 15 or 16 animated films being released each year now Katzenberg wondered, “How do we elevate our product back to a level where we would be considered exceptional and unique?”

Katzenberg firmly believes that 3D is the answer. DreamWorks animated releases will all be 3D starting in 2009 and Katzenberg points to high profile filmmakers who have begun working in the medium, including George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson and James Cameron. He credits filmmaking tools that were not around two years ago for enabling an advanced stereoscopic filmmaking revolution. In fact, Katzenberg and Cameron, who is presently working on the 3D film “Avatar“, have scheduled a training session with 150 top Hollywood filmmakers to demonstrate all the tools and technology now available to create 3D movies.

Whether exhibiting films in 3D will take off may come down to simple economics. Katzenberg said it costs roughly $15 million to take one of DreamWorks animated features 3D. He figures it will be about the same for films that are being made from the outset as 3D releases since they essentially have to make the film twice; once for 3D and once for traditional 2D screens. More telling however, is that Johnson says he has seen incremental box office growth at his theaters when showing 3D films next to the same release in 2D.

“Whenever you have a technology that increases your gross you want to look into that,” said Johnson. “If it is only going to get better than we are in good shape.”

Johnson admitted that he increased the ticket price for 3D releases by a dollar which Katzenberg felt was too low. Though not allowed by law to suggest ticket prices directly to exhibitors, Katzenberg waved five fingers in the air at the audience as if to greet them, suggesting a $5 surcharge on 3D films. “Much like with Imax, you should and can and will, I hope charge an incremental price for this experience,” Katzenberg urged, going on to say that an exhibitor’s increased revenue from just one stereoscopic release would pay to convert a digital cinema system to 3D.

And according to Katzenberg exhibitors better start converting their screens soon, not only to digital, but also to digital 3D, as he believes a majority of all releases will move be 3D in the next several years. He made it clear that he believes 3D is the wave f the future and exhibitors better get on board.

“This is the first opportunity in decades for the exhibition industry to significantly change the theatrical experience,” Katzenberg proclaimed. “We are doing our part in Hollywood to roll the product out. . . I need you to stop being skeptical about us. I would just like you to believe in your business as much as I do.”