Live 3-D events get sneak peek

October 26, 2006
By Gregg Goldstein
The Hollywood Reporter

ORLANDO -- Live music and sports events could be coming to a movie theater near you as early as the summer -- and in 3-D, no less.

At ShowEast on Wednesday, Real D, which specializes in digital 3-D presentations, staged the first event ever projected in real time onscreen in 3-D. It also unveiled plans to bring its technology for projected films in 3-D to 500 screens for the March release of Walt Disney Pictures' "Meet the Robinsons."

Exhibitors at the AMC Pleasure Island Theatre here got a preview of the live 3-D presentations to come. A Blue Man Group-style percussion band played outside, captured by two Sony Cinealta 950 digital cameras, and the performance was projected via coaxial cable to an auditorium in the multiplex. Steve Schklair of 3ality Digital Systems (newly renamed from Cobalt Entertainment) set up the projection.

Before that demonstration, audiences viewed clips from Walt Disney Pictures' digital 3-D/Real D presentation of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas," which scored big at the boxoffice this past weekend. Real D chairman Michael Lewis said "Nightmare's" success was proof that 3-D is a boxoffice draw. "People are charging $2-$3 more on tickets, and the audience isn't pushing back," he said.

Real D CEO Joshua Greer said a major 3-D concert event could appear on screens as early as the summer. Talks also are under way for live 3-D projection of a sports event, including the NCAA men's basketball Final Four, Super Bowl or NASCAR championships.

For the November 2007 release of Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf," starring Angelina Jolie, Real D said it will have outfitted 1,000 screens so that they can exhibit the movie in 3-D. In fact, Greer said, that figure could be reached as early as August.

As for adding concerts and sports events to the 3-D mix, Real D's Lewis said the challenge wasn't technological but rather a question of selling the idea to promoters and league owners.

"The biggest challenges are the rights issues -- making the sports leagues understand that the theater base audience for these events is not going to drag people away from their televisions," he said. "It's like early Hollywood, where no one feels certain about exactly what's going to happen."
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