Fight over 3-D screens heats up with high-pressure tactics

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Ever since Time Warner’s Warner Bros. announced its plans in February to open ‘Clash of the Titans’ in 3-D on April 2, just one week after DreamWorks Animation’s 3-D ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ debuts, studio executives and theater owners have known there would be an all-out battle for the limited number of 3-D-capable screens.

The battle is heating up this week. Exhibition executives at the ShoWest industry conference in Las Vegas have been buzzing about the pressure they’re under from Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, distributor of ‘Dragon,’ and Warner Bros. to book their respective movies.

Paramount has taken the unusual and aggressive step of telling theaters with a 3-D-capable screen that if they choose not to show it in 3-D, they won’t be provided with a 2-D copy to show instead. ‘It’s an underhanded threat,’ said one California theater operator who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

Walt Disney Studios, meanwhile, is looking to keep as many 3-D screens as possible for ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ which has grossed more than $220 million domestically in its first 12 days.


For much more on the battle for 3-D screens and Paramount’s high-stakes gambit to ensure that ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ secures as many as possible, see the story in Thursday’s Times.

-- Ben Fritz and Richard Verrier