The Walt Disney Co.'s October rerelease of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" in 3-D digital cinema proved a success, playing in 168 theaters and grossing $8.7 million. It even ran in some venues until New Year's Day.
On Oct. 19, Disney again is rereleasing the film, but this year the studio is planning for a four-week run in about 600 theaters.
The 3-D-ready screens then will be needed to accommodate the debut of Paramount Pictures' 3-D "Beowulf" on Nov. 16, says Chuck Viane, president of distribution at Disney. "I would say within 12-18 months the marketplace will take care of itself," he says. "While the initial (3-D) installations are going on, you have to be quite cognizant of what is available to you in 3-D."
This shift could mark the arrival of a new stage in the 3-D digital-cinema movement.
Big titles are driving installations. Paramount estimates there will be 1,000 3-D-ready screens for "Beowulf," but that figure is skewed as it counts film-based Imax screens as well as digital installations from Real D and Dolby Digital Cinema. For digital 3-D releases, 3-D provider Real D is more optimistic, saying that it expects to exceed 1,000 screens in the fall. Dolby, which announced a 3-D digital-cinema system in March at ShoWest, is testing its technology in theaters and plans to roll out in time for "Nightmare" and "Beowulf." The company did not yet have screen-count figures.