China and the broader Asia market offers major opportunities for 2D-to-3D conversions, per Ian Jessel, prexy of visual FX group Legend 3D, and could account for one third of his biz within a few years.
“In China, they are adding three screens a day, and by the end of 2016, they will have more 3D screens than the U.S., some of them Imax, some not. All are looking for content,” said Jessel, head of the Hollywood-based company that specializes in 2D to 3D conversions, speaking on the fringes of the Shanghai Film Festival.
“We are hoping for strong business here. We are looking for strategic partners and talking to all the heavyweights, including distributors and film funds. We see a third of our business coming from here. The market for 3D conversion here is even hotter than in the U.S. and Europe.”
Legend worked on the 3D conversion of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which took a hefty $170 million in China, topping the 2011 box office.
Legend also did “The Smurfs,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Hugo.”
“Youngsters want to see mainly American films. The studios are looking to China for returns,” he said.
Legend is currently working on films from Disney, Paramount and DreamWorks.
He expects catalog titles to be a big draw, a fact born out by the success of the 3D version of “Titanic,” which was the top opener of all time in China, far exceeding the U.S. take.
Jessel said converting catalog films into 3D was a great way for people who want a piece of Hollywood but don’t want the inherent risks of launching new 3D movies.
Before joining Legend 3D in April, Jessel was founding prexy of Miramax Intl., topper of Nelson Entertainment Intl., VP of CBS Films and m.d. of ITC Entertainment. Among the movies he was involved in were “Pulp Fiction” and “Bullets Over Broadway.”
He took over from Legend founder Barry Sandrew, who continues as chief creative officer and chief technology officer.