A Hannah Montana in your lap and a Miley Cyrus in your arms!

By Patrick von Sychowski | February 1, 2008 4:18 am PST

…was the tag-line that Disney sadly chose not to use for the digital 3D release of the concert film ‘Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour’ [Surely in questionable taste, given the target demographic? -Ed.]. Beating the digital 3D release of ‘U2 3D’ and counter-programming the Super Bowl weekend, the Hannah/Miley release straddles pre-recorded alternative content and 3D film. It is likely to do very good business (with record pre-sales already), though it is debatable whether this will prove the validity of digital 3D, cinema screenings of pop concerts or cross over from television, or all three.

A lot of column inches has been devoted to this phenomenon, nowhere more so than at the Hollywood Report, which examines the digital 3D production/post-production angle (‘Swift 3-D turnaround gives ‘Hannah’ a happening feel‘):

[Director Bruce] Hendricks says his aim was to focus on making a movie in terms of story and editing and not be intimidated by technology. He adds that some of his comfort with the format came from homework done over the years at the studio — Disney has been pioneering the digital 3-D format with such releases as “Chicken Little” and “Meet the Robinsons.” “Hannah Montana” happens to be the first live-action feature to open in digital 3-D.

3-D “events” are the next areas of exploration. As demonstrated with “Hannah Montana,” technology has reached a point where a production can be completed in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, distribution techniques have emerged that could enable live-event broadcasts to digital theaters.

“It’s very much in the near future,” Hendricks says. “It is being worked on for sporting events. I could even see concerts where live 3-D is broadcast.”

THR’s Carl DiOrio digs into the number of screens (not that many) and ticket price (pretty high) to try draw some conclusions about the films/event’s prospects (‘The tweens shall meet – ‘Hannah’ could draw $20 mil‘):

Disney’s “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” goes out in 3-D projection in 683 domestic locations, starting Friday. That’s just a fraction of the playdates of most other wide openers, but the screen count hardly tells the story of the studio’s extra-dimensional hopes for “Hannah.”

Indeed, “Hannah” — Montana is the performer’s TV show persona, Cyrus her real name — has a few things going for it that could help the concert film sing its way to No. 1 this weekend.

For starters, 3-D releases support higher ticket prices, and in “Hannah’s” case, exhibitors are expected to charge up to $15 per admission. That’s a particularly pricey ducat, considering that most ticketbuyers will be tweens and younger who normally would get a break from the adult-ticket price.

While the actual review of the HM/MC digital 3D happening acknowledges that it is pretty squarely aimed at the existing fan base and is thus unlikely to act as a warm up to ‘U2 3D’ in the next few weeks (‘Bottom Line: For the parents at least, this filmed concert is probably better than actually being there.‘):

Considering that it runs a scant 74 minutes — which includes numerous backstage scenes — the film clearly is not presenting the entirety of the live show. But it should offer enough to please most audiences, and director Bruce Hendricks has filmed the fast-paced musical action in sufficiently breathless fashion. As with the recent U2 concert film, the 3-D aspect — you’ll duck when the musicians throw guitar picks and drumsticks at the camera — adds greatly to the experience.

I will personally hold out for the first concert films that features a digital 3D stage dive.

Patrick von Sychowski
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