U2 keeps sales in perspective

Pic will only be shown in 3-D format

CANNES — The Palais screening of “U2 3D” could prove a watershed moment for 3-D cinema. And it would seem to be an obvious slam-dunk for a “U2 3D” North American theatrical sale by CAA.

Not so fast. Only theatrical rights are available to the $15 million film, which will eventually clock in at 80 to 90 minutes and will be released in both digital 3-D and Imax 3-D formats.

Bono and U2 control the ancillary rights with Universal Music, and are committed to keeping the film’s 3-D format. They will not sell those rights until digital television can meet the same 3-D standard as cinema.

“Ancillary rights will only be available at the time everyone agrees that the home-viewing experience is at the exacting level that the band expects,” said 3ality CEO Sandy Climan. “We did not come to Cannes to sell theatrical rights.”

The filmmakers will close a distribution deal when they return to Hollywood, Climan said.

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So why bring the film to Cannes? It was Bono’s idea to perform.

Climan and Real D CEO Michael Lewis are meeting with international exhibitors and distributors here to promote the 3-D medium. Real D has a long-term investment in pushing its format with exhibitors all over the world, many of whom have no 3-D installations at all. (Real D installed a special giant silver screen at the Lumiere.)

“We came to Cannes at the invitation of the festival to demonstrate the artistry of this new technology,” Climan said. “It’s the best showcase in the world. We came here to communicate a new medium.”

“Content is a great driver for licensing and getting our technology installed,” said Lewis. “3-D has grown in fits and starts; the technology was not good enough on the capture side or delivery side. Now it’s bullet proof and perfect every time. Creative people can feel comfortable with playing with it.”

Real D cinemas are on the rise in the Lewis expects the current 705 screens to expand to 1,000 by November’s release of “Beowulf,” and 2,000 by the end of 2008.

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