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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Disney to Convert More Animation Titles to 3-D

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Walt Disney Co. said it will create 3-D versions of four of its best-known animation titles and release them in theaters over the next two years, following an unexpectedly successful run for a similar conversion of 1994's "The Lion King."

The 3-D version of that movie was supposed to run for just two weeks, largely as a way to promote its release on Blu-ray disc. But after 3 ½ weeks, "The Lion King" in 3-D has earned more than $100 million at box offices world-wide, prompting the company to look for similar opportunities in the vaults of Disney Animation and Pixar.

"Beauty and the Beast" is to come out this coming January, followed in September by "Finding Nemo." A 3-D version of "Monsters Inc." is slated for January 2013, and "The Little Mermaid" in September 2013.

"Monsters University," a prequel to "Monsters Inc.," is come out in June 2013. The company used a similar strategy to promote last year's "Toy Story 3," with 3-D re-releases of the first two movies in the series.

The plans come at a moment when some in Hollywood had begun to question the viability of 3-D, with ticket sales faltering amid complaints that the format was becoming an excuse to sell higher-priced tickets for an unnecessary visual effect.

For "Alice in Wonderland," released in 2010, 70% of tickets sold in the U.S. were for 3-D showings. For this year's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," the share of opening-weekend tickets sold in 3-D was just 43%.

But the success of "The Lion King" demonstrated that fans will still pay for 3-D tickets in at least some instances. For Disney, releasing proven hits in 3-D could produce a reliable and profitable revenue stream. Such conversions typically cost less than $10 million, according to people in the movie business.

Disney Studios President Alan Bergman said in a statement that the company is "thrilled to give audiences of all ages the chance to experience these beloved tales in an exciting new way."