Duo Team on HD 3D Concerts

AEG Live and Action 3D have partnered to produce a series of filmed concert events shot on HD 3D and slated to be released theatrically in 3D for limited, one-week engagements. The first film to roll out will headline the Dave Matthews Band, culled from footage shot at the three-day Austin City Limits festival in October, scheduled to be released Dec. 11 by Cinedigm Entertainment on 300-400 digital cinema screens in the U.S.

Since partnering in the spring, AEG and Action 3D have already compiled footage from 56 artists from five different festivals, with the goal of upping that figure to 150 artists in 2010. The strategy has been to pinpoint fests like Lollapalooza, All Points West and Austin City Limits, allowing the filmmakers to film multiple artists over the course of one event.

"Our goal was to mimic a concert," said John Rubey, president of Network Live, a division of AEG Live, comparing the Matthews film to U2 3D, the first live-action digital 3D film, released 2008, which consisted of pieced-together concert footage shot over the course of the Latin American leg of the Irish band's Vertigo tour of 2006. That film took more than a year to complete, while the Matthews footage was shot Oct. 3 and will hit the screens in December. According to Rubey, the release date was chosen to take advantage of the window between the release of 3D tentpoles Disney's A Christmas Carol, released Nov. 6, and James Cameron's Avatar, which bows Dec. 18.

To date, only U2 3D and Fly Me to the Moon have been released only in 3D, and neither tallied huge box office in the U.S. Other 3D pics have opted for a mixed 2D/3D release. Of 3D concert releases, only Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds has been a major success. AEG has seen boffo numbers for 2D concert release Michael Jackson's This Is It, released through Sony, with $186 million worldwide.

Wednesday's announcement comes on the heels of Sony Pictures' Hot Ticket division's plans to make its first foray into the 3D realm with the concert pic, Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D, set for a limited engagement run in April.

AEG claims to have the largest library of 3D music concert content, which, in addition to Matthews, includes a number of leading artists currently in negotiation with the producer. It has already been reported that AEG filmed several 3D live sets of Phish from Festival 8 in Indio, Calif., in late October. According to Rubey, the company plans to roll out "best of" edition from Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits as followups to the Matthews feature in 2010.

By Steve Chagollan, Variety