"Monsters vs Aliens" signals future 3-D successes

Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:26pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - DreamWorks Animation SKG's strong $59.3 million opening weekend for 3-D movie "Monsters vs. Aliens" signals that Hollywood's greater reliance on the third dimension is popular with audiences.

Going into the movie's Friday opening, Hollywood was watching to see how commercially viable 3-D had become for big-budget films like the animated "Monsters vs. Aliens."

The movie set an opening weekend record with more than $33 million on 3-D screens, and its total take of $59.3 million in the United States and Canada, including traditional 2-D theaters, was at the high end of analysts' forecasts.

As a result, DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the industry's biggest 3-D cheerleaders, said Hollywood is paying attention.

"I think this is the beginning of an era and I think we're going to see a lot of very exciting films and filmmakers working using this new technique," Katzenberg told Reuters.

While 3-D movies with comparatively smaller budgets have performed well in recent months, "Monsters vs. Aliens" cost more than $165 million. The last 3-D Hollywood film to approach that budget was the dog tale "Bolt," which has earned about $290 million worldwide since late November.

"Monsters vs. Aliens," in which Reese Witherspoon voices a 50-foot-(15-meter-)tall newscaster recruited to help battle an alien invasion, played on 2,080 3-D screens in North America, making use of nearly every available screen equipped with the technology. About 40 3-D films are scheduled to play in theaters in the next three years.

"My hope is that within the next 18 month in North America we'll get to 7,000 or 8,000 (3-D) screens, which is what we need to be able to accommodate two wide releases at the same time," said Katzenberg, whose studio will release all future movies in 3-D.   Continued...

<p>Actor Seth Rogen, who gives voice to B.O.B. in the movie, poses at the premiere of "Monsters vs. Aliens" at the Gibson amphitheatre in Universal City, California March 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>