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Closed encounters with 3-D

CG pics woo auds with extra dimension, but Acad can't consider format separately

“The Polar Express” proved it. Unlike “flat” cel animation, CG features lend themselves to 3-D screenings. Critics have described the experience as if seeing an entirely different movie, and auds have shown their enthusiasm at the box office.

Yet no one has yet submitted a CG film in 3-D for Oscar consideration. This year, Warner’s “The Ant Bully” and Sony’s “Open Season” and “Monster House” got 3-D releases but are strictly 2-D for the Academy.

One problem is that the Academy theater, which hosts many member screenings, isn’t an Imax theater, so it can’t handle Imax 3-D prints, and it doesn’t have a silver screen, so one must be installed for a digital

3-D screening. The setup and strike time for such a temporary installation is enough to cause scheduling headaches during the busy Oscar season.

There are other considerations as well, though. “Monster House” producer Steve Starkey says, “I’m not going to force (the Academy) to see it in 3-D because I think the digital 2-D presentation is beautiful and stands on its own. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea that the movie (only) works because it’s in 3-D. I just didn’t want to send the wrong message.”

“Monster House” will screen in 2-D at the Academy, but there will be some 3-D screenings in theaters, says Starkey. Since DVD screeners can’t display either Imax 3-D or digital 3-D, Warner Bros. decided to go strictly 2-D on its submission of “The Ant Bully,” a film that most AMPAS members will see only on homevideo.

Sony’s other animated release this year, “Open Season,” played in Imax 3-D but was seen mostly in 2-D. Sony Pictures Digital prexy Yair Landau says: “My feeling is the Academy submission should reflect the mass-audience experience. When you reach a point where it drives your box office, then it’s representative of the audience experience. It should be what the majority of people saw.”

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