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There’s no doubt about it: The future of 3-D cinema has supplanted digital cinema and piracy as the hot topic at this year’s ShowEast exhib confab, which wraps today.

At a packed house Wednesday morning, theater owners slipped on special glasses and checked out trailers for upcoming 3-D films including Robert Zemeckis’ “Beowulf,” from Paramount-Warner Bros.; New Line’s “Journey 3-D”; and Summit Entertainment’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” Also unspooled: an extended clip from “U2 3D,” shot during the band’s Vertigo Tour.

Later in the day, Disney — a pioneer in the new 3-D movement — announced it will release 3-D concert film “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” in theaters for one week only, Feb. 1-7, in the U.S. and Canada. Movie will open in several international markets in spring, including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and selected Asian territories.

After hosting the 3-D presentation at ShowEast, Real D — the leading provider of 3-D cinema systems — announced that it has inked its largest international deal to date, pacting with pan-European cinema exhib Odeon/UCI to install up to 500 3-D digital screens over the next two years across Europe.

Some of the new screens will be up and running in time for the November release of “Beowulf,” which Warner Bros. is distributing internationally, and Disney’s annual re-release of Tim Burton’s holiday fave “The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D.”

Under the new pact between Real D and Odeon, 3-D screens will be added in new markets such as Spain and Italy. Pact will substantially increase Real D’s footprint in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Portugal.

Odeon/UCI is owned by Guy Hands’ private equity company Terra Firma, which recently bought music giant EMI.

Last week, Real D signed a deal for 30 systems with U.K. chain Cineworld.

Imax moves up launch date of digital projection system

On the digital cinema front, Imax announced Wednesday that it is moving up the launch date of its digital projection system to the second quarter of 2008; it was previously to launch sometimes between the end of 2008 and mid-2009. New digital projection system will virtually eliminate the need for film prints, increasing the number of movies shown on Imax screens by making it much easier for studios to deliver their product.

Under the revised rollout schedule, Imax expects to install three digital prototype systems in the second quarter of next year. A full rollout will begin in the second half of the third quarter.

(Leo Barraclough contributed to this report.)