Interview with Jeffrey Katzenberg

In the last few years, dozens of movies have been released with the option to view them in 3D -- including Disney's Bolt, which is currently in theaters. But Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, is unveiling a whole new type of 3D movie technology with Monsters vs. Aliens, coming in March. DreamWorks partnered with Intel and HP to create the film with InTru 3D -- a technology marketed as creating a more immersive and natural 3D movie experience, while putting less strain on the eyes.

Katzenberg said all animated movies from DreamWorks from now on will be offered in InTru 3D. The studio spends an average of $150 million making a computer generated animated movie, but this adds a cost of $15 million to each one, Katzenberg said. Katzenberg is traveling to movie theaters around the world to show off InTru 3D. He visited the Aventura Mall last week to show clips from the new movie and discuss it with The Miami Herald. He says 3D is the next step in film evolution, and he predicts it will be the norm for all movies in the next couple years. So popular, in fact, that you'll buy designer 3D glasses to take with you to every movie.

You say theaters should charge $5 more for a ticket to see these new 3D movies since it costs more to make them, so how do you think that's going to play out when consumers are money-conscious and worried about the economy?
When people do something that is exciting and new and seems much better, we will pay more for it. Obviously it costs us more to do it, and so there will be an incremental charge for it. What we're not doing is denying someone who wants to still see the 2D version of the movie. We're not going to take that opportunity away from people. They'll have that chance, that decision to make. But I think even with a $5 premium charge for this exceptional presentation and experience, it is a very good bargain. It's why movies are doing very well in a very stressed economy, because getting on a plane and flying to someplace, and getting in the car and driving someplace, and getting in the theme park for a weekend or a resort hotel, those things are really, really expensive. And going to your local movie theater and buying a movie ticket for $7, or in this case $12, is still a good value for people.

What are the challenges in marketing your movies to Latin America and how important is that region to DreamWorks?
For years we have adapted our movies into 46 languages. One of the most important and most successful regions of the world for us is the entire South American market. In fact, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa just opened and set records in Argentina, Peru, Chili and Mexico. It's a great market for family films and CG animated movies in particular. So we actually put a great deal of time and effort into both creatively adapting the movie into local language and also in how we market the films. One of the great examples -- and there are a zillion of these in every movie we make -- in the original Shrek, Donkey says, we'll stay up late telling manly stories and in the morning we're making waffles. Well, we're actually making churros.

You have worked on very memorable 3D theme park attractions in Orlando, including "Honey, I Shrunk The Audience", "Muppet Vision 3-D" and "Shrek 4-D". When you say 3D to a Floridian, that's the type of 3D entertainment that probably comes to mind. So how do you get the consumer to realize this is a different experience?
We do have to get the word out because this is not my father's 3D. It's a big leap into anything anyone has seen before. I have to rely on other people to help spread the word out there.

Are we going to see this InTru 3D technology in DreamWorks' upcoming live action movies?
Steven Spielberg is my partner and he's seen every step along the way of what we're doing here, he's very very excited about it, as are George Lucas and Peter Jackson and Bob Zemeckis and Jim Cameron, who's got a giant movie he's making that's coming out at the end of 2009. Most of the great filmmakers, they are on to this, they see the great opportunity and the potential of it and they're exited about it. And they're going to make their 3D movies. You'll see them coming from everybody. You'll start seeing live action movies using this next generation of technology in the middle to end of next year.

It's costly to use this technology, but do you think your competitors are going to jump on board with the upgrade and also spend more on this type of 3D technology?
Consumers are going to react great to this. And so far, from what everybody has seen, they have. I think that other companies are seeing the promise and opportunity here and so they are getting on to it. Nothing will do more to speed up this adaption than a couple of big hits. That will be the test of it. If we have great success of it, if Jim Cameron has great success with it, if a few others do it, it will be the rage. Everyone will do it.

By Bridget Carey, Miami Herald