Katzenberg angry over Warner’s ‘Clash of the Titans’ 3-D release

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DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg went into overdrive last week after Warner Bros. announced plans to release its movie ‘Clash of the Titans’ in 3-D, stepping on the toes of DreamWorks’ animated release ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Katzenberg shot off an e-mail to Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman Barry Meyer last week, protesting his studio’s decision to release the film April 2, a week after the debut of ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ said a person familiar with the matter.


The DreamWorks chief also communicated his displeasure to at least one other top Warner executive.

Representatives of both studios declined to comment.

Warner Bros. originally planned to release the remake of the 1981 Greek mythology tale in 2-D on March 26 -- the same day ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is opening. But on Feb. 2, the Burbank studio surprised many in the industry when it announced it was also releasing the movie in 3-D and putting off its release by one week.

That didn’t sit well with Katzenberg, one of Hollywood’s biggest champions of 3-D movies, who was counting on having the lion’s share of 3-D screens for ‘Dragon.’ The reaction was understandable since the decision will leave ‘Dragon’ with fewer available 3-D screens. There are currently about 3,500 3-D screens in the U.S. DreamWorks plans three 3-D films this year.

For its part, Warner Bros. is simply trying to cash in on the 3-D bandwagon, fueled by the massive success of James Cameron’s 3-D sci-fi epic ‘Avatar.’

Although JPMorgan Chase has raised nearly $700 million to help speed up the rollout of 3-D systems in theaters, the shortage of screens has intensified friction among studios as they compete for a limited number of screens.

Despite the new funding, it will take months before the new digital systems are installed, leading to a bottleneck for 3-D films, especially in March, when Walt Disney Pictures also releases ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in 3-D. What’s more, ‘Avatar’ could still be in theaters.


-- Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller