Studio to release toon in 3-D

Warner Bros. Pictures and large-format exhibitor Imax are teaming up again, this time to the tune of singing Emperor penguins.

Studio will release animated pic “Happy Feet” in Imax 3-D domestically on Nov. 17, 2006, the same date the musical comedy — in the works long before the breakout success of Warner Independent Pictures’ doc “March of the Penguins” –bows on conventional screens.

Warners also will be the exclusive distributor of the pic, about a tap-dancing Emperor penguin, to conventional and Imax theaters overseas.

Voiced by Nicole Kidman, Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman and Brittany Murphy, and directed by George Miller (“Babe”), “Happy Feet” will be digitally converted into 3-D using proprietary Imax technology.

Imax Filmed Entertainment chair-prexy Greg Foster said there were several movies to choose from for the exhib’s 2006 holiday release, but “Happy Feet” was the “perfect choice.”

Warner Bros. Pictures’ domestic distribution prexy Dan Fellman said the Imax theater network has become a valuable part of the studio’s release strategy. Studio has two other Imax 3-D releases skedded for next year, “Superman Returns” and “The Ant Bully.”

Later this year, Warners’ “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” will play on Imax screens, but not in 3-D.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ international distribution prez, Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, noted the success of holiday release “The Polar Express” when it played overseas in Imax 3-D.

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