Industry looks ahead as confab screens 'Toy Story,' 'Shrek'

In its final year as ShoWest, studios at the confab emphasized the industry’s multiple dimensions.

From studios to exhibs to suppliers, most of this year’s meetings and events focused on the barrage of 3D product entering the market.

Disney screened 3D toon, “Toy Story 3,” while DreamWorks Animation topper Jeffrey Katzenberg made a brief visit to Las Vegas to unspool the 3D version of “Shrek Forever After,” the latest installment of the franchise, at a private screening for 54 confab attendees.

The Mouse House hosted a public bow of the much-buzzed “Toy Story 3″ on Tuesday to strong word-of-mouth. Disney also screened its upcoming “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” with producer Jerry Bruckheimer on hand to introduce the film.

Bruckheimer said the event “allows the industry a chance to get a peek at (the studio’s) best stuff. If you look at the business with the success of ‘Avatar,’ and now with ‘Alice,’ it brings an added excitement to the industry,” he said of the 3D phenomenon.

Warner Bros. was the only studio to give a major presentation, showing highlights Wednesday from the upcoming 3D “Clash of the Titans.”

Universal also tubthumped its 3D toon “Despicable Me” at the confab’s keynote address on Tuesday.

Disney prexy of distribution Chuck Viane commented on the upcoming slate, saying, “It sounds to me as if the summer is shaping up really well based on the product that is here.”

The number of 3D titles screened at the confab highlights the 3D crunch both studios and exhibs are facing.

The need for more 3D screens has become increasingly urgent since the success of “Avatar.” Out of 39,380 screens in the U.S., only 3,378 are equipped for 3D.

Natl. Assn. of Theater Owners prexy and CEO John Fithian said there was light at the end of the tunnel, adding, “Broader integration funding is just around the corner.

“We could more than double our current 3D screen count by the end of the year.”

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