Cinema Expo Attracts Industry Biggies

"Cinema Expo kicked off with a bang as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Jerry Seinfeld touched down in the Netherlands to help beat the drum for a buzzing Paramount slate.

The hot topic on day one of the Amsterdam confab was 3-D cinema. Katzenberg, who reiterated his pledge that all DreamWorks Animation projects released in 2009 will be in 3-D, led the charge with an impassioned call to arms. “3-D is an experience unlike anything we have seen before. It is not a gimmick, not a trick. It is not your dad’s 3-D ... It is the most exciting development in cinema in 60 years.”

Katzenberg predicted “a large portion of tentpoles will migrate to 3-D,” thanks to the leadership of the “alphas of the moviemaking group” -- James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. Katzenberg also said his discussions with Michael Bay and Ron Howard suggest more heavyweights are catching the 3-D bug.

Katzenberg said of the 65-70 pics that generate 80% of the U.S. box office, two-thirds “would provide a premium experience if offered as 3-D.”

But while many Hollywood brass are evangelical about the benefits of 3-D cinema, European exhibs continue to struggle to make the transition to digital cinema -- a prerequisite for 3-D. Panels and seminars plotting a road map for European digital rollout dominated the morning sessions at the RAI center, with the complexities of virtual print fee deals and the cost of DCI-compliant equipment repeatedly held up as stumbling blocks.

But it was not all grumbling. News that Fox and Universal have struck non-exclusive VPF deals with facilitator Arts Alliance Media -- a big step toward European digitization -- was greeted warmly by delegates."

By Archie Thomas and Leo Barraclough, Variety