Attendees of ShowEast must be experiencing serious deja vu all over again. Digital Cinema and digital 3D are the big themes, Katzenberg is there to spread the digital/3D gospel and everyone still waits for DCIP to show its hand. So it’s just like CinemaExpo in June and ShoWest in March. OK, so not everybody attends all three shows, but I’m sure that things were similar at ShowEast last year too. It used to be that 2008 was going to be the year of digital cinema, but now the mantra is that 2009 will be the year of digital 3D. However, a lot of perception will ride on the relative 3D performance of Beowulf, the first digital 3D title for grown ups. Here is what the Hollywod Reporter had to report from this year’s ShowEast:
The digital cinema transition and 3-D movements are hot topics this week, as the two are intertwined: digital-cinema projection is required in order to offer 3-D digital motion pictures, giving digital cinema some added momentum as both proceed forward.
“The first thing that has come along and actually created an incremental value for exhibition is 3-D,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told The Hollywood Reporter. Katzenberg will speak about 3-D at the convention, which runs today through Thursday. “(Exhibitors) are beginning to see a real growth opportunity in their business. I think that’s part of what has given some real momentum to digital cinema.”
Like I said, deja vu. But further down Katzenberg admitts that going 3D costs Dreamworks Animation an additional $15m per title. But the march of 3D seems unsoppable:
“As more and more 3-D content comes into the market, it will spur the digital-cinema deployment,” said Chuck Viane, Disney’s president of domestic distribution. “I believe the key factor to the digital deployment will probably be the announcement of Digital Cinema Integration Partners and whatever program they will have for digital installations in circuits like Regal and Cinemark and AMC.”
With “Nightmare” and “Beowulf” slated for release this fall, it is expected that there will be roughly 1,000 3-D-ready digital theaters and a total of 4,000 digital cinema screens, representing 10% of the domestic market by year’s end. “By the end of next year, I would think you will be at 25%,” Viane said. “I think DCIP will really determine how quickly the tipping point comes. But the end of next year we could be at 60%. That would not shock me at all.”
Having waited for DCI and the standards that would come from it, the Godot is now DCIP. So ShoWest 2008 is when we should expect to see some real news about digital cinema with Beowulf out of the way and DCIP’s plans expected to be out in the open.