NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If this weekend's Super Bowl is any indication, 3-D is coming back in a big way in 2009, and it's way more than just the red-and-blue glasses of yore.
DreamWorks Animation, PepsiCo and Intel are teaming up for a two-and-a-half-minute block of 3-D commercials, dubbed the "Monstrous Super Bowl Event," plugging DreamWorks' March 27 release of "Monsters vs. Aliens" and Pepsi's SoBe Lifewater, which last year featured Naomi Campbell and a dancing lizard in a Super Bowl spot.
But the Super Bowl is just the beginning of DreamWorks Animation's commitment to 3-D. Last year, the movie studio pledged to produce all of its animated films using its new InTru 3-D technology, in partnership with Intel, which is helping DreamWorks distribute 125 million pairs of glasses in preparation for this weekend's game as well.
Testing the technology
Anne Globe, DreamWorks Animation's head of worldwide marketing, said Sunday's 3-D promotion will be a test of how the studio uses the technology in future TV campaigns. Although 3-D ads don't cost significantly more to produce, they take a little more time to process. TV ads employ ColorCode 3-D technology, which is a bit more labor-intensive than the anaglyph system used in movie theaters, which can translate easily to digital projectors.
NBC, the broadcaster of this year's Super Bowl, will get one more test of 3-D entertainment on the boob tube Feb. 2, the day after the big game, with a 3-D episode of "Chuck" airing at 8 p.m. ET. The network will promote the new show during the Super Bowl with the phrase "Don't 'Chuck' your glasses" to remind viewers to tune in. An NBC spokeswoman said the "Chuck" episode will not feature any 3-D ads.
But no matter the technological advances, Ms. Globe said, a quality product trumps all. "With all our movies going forward, the storytelling and entertainment value of the movies themselves comes first," she said. "The movie itself will be tremendously entertaining in traditional [computer-generated] formats, too."
Nick Knupffer, a spokesman for Intel, said, "It's all about the technology maturing. We've reached a level where you can get a really high level of experience in the cinemas nowadays. That hasn't happened yet on TVs or PC monitors. As the technology matures, we'll definitely see a shift happening, leading with the cinema and going to smaller and smaller screens. I think moving to 3-D is going to be as big a shift as films moving from silent to talkies or moving from black-and-white to color."
Just one of many
"Monsters vs. Aliens" is DreamWorks' only film slated for 2009, but it's one of a whopping 14 3-D films scheduled for release this year. Already out the gate is "My Bloody Valentine 3-D," a remake of the 1980s slasher flick that has grossed nearly $40 million at the box office in its first two weeks of release. Also on the horizon are James Cameron's "Avatar," the director's first feature film since "Titanic," as well as a Jonas Brothers concert movie.
The studios are also seeing dollar signs in those 3-D glasses. DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg recently told investors he expects "Monsters vs. Aliens" to earn as much as an incremental $80 million at the box office based on premium ticket prices, which will run for as much as $25 at some theaters.
Ms. Globe said she expects "Monsters" to launch on 2,000 3-D-enabled screens by its late-March release, a move accelerated last week by Paramount's announcement to become the first studio to offer support to cinemas to speed up the rollout of digital and 3-D projection systems in theaters. The National Association of Theater Owners recently pledged to have 2,500 screens up by year's end. Regal Entertainment Group alone is planning to add 1,500 to its network by 2010.