DreamWorks to focus on 3-D films

DreamWorks Animation is seeing the future in 3-D.

In announcing its quarterly earnings Tuesday afternoon, the Glendale-based company's chief executive made it clear that movies produced for 3-D, such as DreamWorks' successful "Shrek Forever After," will be a focus going forward.

"We're seeing a fresh, vibrant new marketplace," said Jeffrey Katzenberg at a Tuesday afternoon conference with investors.

Showings of "Shrek Forever After" in 3-D led the company in reporting total revenue of $158 million and net income of $24 million for the quarter. That was an increase of $26 million in revenue over the same quarter last year, when the company made $132 million, but a slight decrease in profits, which were down from $25.6 million.

Katzenberg and other executives said cash flow would increase in the second half of the year with continuing theater receipts from "Shrek Forever After" and home sales of that film and "How to Train Your Dragon." Katzenberg predicted a $1-billion year at the box office for the studio.

The burgeoning 3-D market is also creating opportunities for local companies that do pre- and post-production work.

Gavin Koon, a longtime representative of studio workers who serves on the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board, said, "3-D is an opportunity for the media belt to capitalize on. You've got to have bodies who can paint and draw and do digital effects in 3-D."

As more 3-D films are developed, he said, "You will see a higher degree of technical involvement, computer people who can help manage the process."

Steve Hines, a Glendale-based camera specialist who has developed a special rig for 3-D filming at his company, HinesLab, said that while DreamWorks 3-D catalog includes only digital films, or cartoons, studios are beginning to shoot the format in live action as well.

"There are roughly 20 live-action [3-D] films in production," he said.

That's good news, as demand for his skills and equipment are rising, he added.

"Now that 3-D is getting to be very popular, I have a number of competitors," Hines said.

In the call with investors, Katzenberg said "artists are getting more and more experienced in using 3-D" but there is a logjam of demand for theaters to be converted to show 3-D films. Internationally and in the U.S., he said he expects more than 1,000 movie screens a quarter to be converted to 3-D through 2012.

"We believe 3-D is here to stay," he said.

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