CinemaCon Update: James Cameron, George Lucas, Jeff Katzenberg Talk Cinema's Digital Future

by Anthony D'Alessandro
March 31, 2011 5:31 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood
Stunts, legendary studio executives and name auteurs with an eye on the digital future were de rigueur during Wednesday’s CinemaCon. Anthony D'Alessandro digests the latest news from Las Vegas.

In a CinemaCon 3-D powwow with directors George Lucas, James Cameron and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, the trio continued to tub-thump the visual format, while warning attendees that 3-D shouldn’t be used frivolously by the studios to pad grosses. Cameron soapboxed the same philosophy about wasteful 3-D pics that he has been vocalizing since last summer, when he attacked Weinstein Co.’s Piranha 3D. The Wrap reported Cameron's lament: “I’m concerned about things that erode the market. Bad 3-D is one of them.” Haste leads to waste, Katzenberg further pointed out, using Warner Bros.' last-minute transformation of Clash of the Titans as an example. Good 3-D transformations take from six to eight months, not weeks.

Not addressed by the trio were the low box-office shares for 3-D family films of the sort that Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation pumps out, although Megamind and How to Train Your Dragon did garner 66% or more of their gross in the format. That’s largely because DreamWorks toons tend to skew older. Younger fare like Despicable Me, a Universal release, saw lower 3D shares, less than 50%, proving that families don’t want to budget their bucks for the format.

On Thursday, Cameron also espoused his wish for the digital future, which he plans to use on Avatar 2: speeding up the frames per second on films from tried-and-true 24 fps to from 48 to 64 in order to improve 3-D by reducing "strobing." The AP reports. Cameron is still writing Avatar 2; production is 18 months away.

Meanwhile, Sony tried to overpower a lukewarm-received Wednesday screening of Kevin James’ new comedy Zookeeper by parading live animals in the lobby at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The Wrap caught people fleeing the theater, and a baby bear urinated on Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer, who was already dressed for Dick Cook’s tribute dinner.

Meanwhile, a who’s who of Hollywood showed up at the former Disney studio chief’s dinner: Jerry Bruckheimer, John Travolta and a trifecta of ex-Disney execs--Katzenberg, Michael Eisner and Joe Roth--among the attendees. The dinner, mostly attended by exhibitors, raised funds for the Will Rogers charity fund and was hosted by Tim Allen. When pressed, Cook was mum about about his newest project.

[James Cameron photo courtesy AP.]

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