KATZENBERG CALLS 3-D TRUCE

It's one thing for monsters to battle aliens; it's quite another for both of them to battle an avatar -- especially in 3-D, DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg suggested Wednesday. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs media conference in New York, Katzenberg said that his studio had decided to move the release of its 3-D feature Monsters vs. Aliens up two months to March 27, 2009, just ahead of the Easter holiday, from May 15 so that it would not have to compete against James Cameron's 3-D feature Avatar, which is scheduled to open on May 22. Even though by then 5,000 to 8,000 3-D screens will be available, Katzenberg noted, had Monsters stuck to its proposed May release, "I saw more and more problems splitting the market for 3-D right at the time when it will be becoming the most exciting thing in movie-going." In an interview with today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times, Paramount distribution chief Rob Moore said that DreamWorks' decision was "less about fighting with sνomebody else than thinking about the long-term deployment of 3-D. ... The question was, how do we give exhibition a constant stream of product to make the investment in 3-D worthwhile?"

KATZENBERG DEFENDS DREAMWORKS COFOUNDER SPIELBERG

DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg registered shock and anger Wednesday at news reports quoting Viacom chief Philippe Dauman as saying that it "would be completely immaterial" to his company if Steven Spielberg decides to leave DreamWorks when his contract expires next year. Speaking at an investors' conference in New York, Katzenberg, who co-founded DreamWorks with Spielberg and David Geffen, said: "Steven Spielberg is nothing short of a national treasure. ... To suggest that not having Steven Spielberg is completely immaterial seems ill-advised. I think calmer heads need to prevail here." Reporting on Katzenberg's remarks, Daily Variety noted Spielberg's "creative clout" was cited to justify the $1.6-billion price Viacom paid for DreamWorks in 2005 to beat out Universal. But now, the trade paper commented, "Dauman's comments have created additional fences to mend should he endeavor to keep the troika in the fold."

WGA PRESIDENT SAYS HE'S HOPEFUL STRIKE CAN BE AVOIDED

Newly reelected Writers Guild of America West President Patric Verrone has appeared to pooh-pooh remarks by DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg suggesting that a wide gulf existed between the contractual demands of the WGA and what producers were prepared to accept. While Katzenberg had said on Tuesday that he was "fearful" that a strike was all but inevitable, Verrone was quoted by Reuters as saying that he was hopeful that a "reasonable deal" could be worked out before October 31, when the current contract expires.

TV SHOWS BEAT OUT MOVIES AT VIDEO STORES

Movies continued to take a back seat to telZevision-show compilations at the video stores last week, as the Season 3 DVD set of Grey's Anatomy replaced Season 3 of The Office at the top of the sales charts. Blades of Glory remained in second place, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert. The movie also held the No. 1 spot for the third week in a row on the rental chart, bringing in an additional $5.5 million to raise its rental gross to $22 million. Georgia Rule and Delta Farce were virtually tied for second place, with each earning about $3 million, according to Home Media magazine.

MPAA PROPOSES ALLIANCE WITH ISP'S

Claiming that illegal movie downloading is clogging the arteries of major Internet service providers, MPAA chief Dan Glickman has offered to team up with them to squelch piracy. The ISPs' "revenue bases depend on legitimate operations of their networks and more and more they're finding their networks crowded with infringed material, bandwidth space being crowded out," Glickman told a Washington conference on Tuesday, adding that as a result, "many of them are actually getting into the content business directly or indirectly. This is not an us-versus-them issue."

IMAX SIGNS ITS BIGGEST DEAL EVER IN ASIA

Marking its biggest deal ever in the Asian market, IMAX announced Wednesday that it has received an order from the Chinese theater chain Wanda Cinema Line Corp. for the installation of 10 giant-screen theaters by the end of 2010, with the first two to open by the end of this year. The initial installations will employ IMAX's film-projection technology, ǀwhile the remainder will feature digital projection, the company said.
Cinemark Movie Club

Brian B.