DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg talks up 3D in the home

By David Goldman, AP

Samsung announced its new lineup of 3D TVs at a gathering of the media in Manhattan this morning.  The entry level 46-inch 3D model, the LN46C750, is coming in May for $1,700. Included is a “3D Starter Kit” containing two pairs of 3D glasses, plus a 3D Blu-ray copy of DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters vs. Aliens. The kit will also be included with Samsung’s more expensive new 3D TVs, such as the top-of-the-line 55-inch $7,000 LED model UN55C9000 (out in April ). And it will be made available gratis with Samsung’s first 3D Blu-ray player as well, the $400, BD-C6900, which starts selling this month.
Following the event, I sat down with Bookeun Yoon, the Korea-based president of Samsung Electronics visual display business (who spoke through an interpreter), and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the DreamWorks Animation CEO and one of the industry’s leading 3D evangelists.  DreamWorks and Samsung are teaming up on the 3D launch.  Their remarks, edited for length and clarity:
Q: 3D TVs are expensive. In tough economic times, how fast and how mainstream can these TVs become?
Yoon: There was a study carried out by the Consumer Electronics Association in the U.S. (saying) that 65% of consumers are willing to pay a 25% premium on a 3D TV today. The pricing we have decided on is based on this evidence. People predict maybe one million to seven million 3D sets will be sold this year (industry-wide). I believe a minimum of five million will be sold.
Q: But are people going to buy a 3D TV when they only recently sprung for a new HDTV as part of the transition to digital?
Yoon: When we looked at the LED-type (2D TVs) market last year during an economic crisis there were a lot of doubts about whether these would be viable. The expectation was that maybe 2 million would be sold, but last year 2.6 million were sold and our market share was 80%. Now when we look at 3D TVs (based on LED technology), the product Samsung is launching is a standardized product. This is an opportunity for the TV industry. I believe there will be 70 3D Blu-ray titles out this year. I have high expectations.
Katzenberg: I look at it in a slightly different way.  The innovation of the experience from flat screen to 3D on these new TVs is exceptional. At a 25% premium, I think consumers are going to see that as a very high value. As always happens, when a new innovation is introduced it starts at a high end. First adopters’ will be driven by sports and games. And very quickly you’ll see this move to the mass market. If you look at a first year of introduction and the predictions (for five to seven million 3D TV sold this year)  —  in an introductory year that is huge. (And) there’s a very high multiple of that number coming in 2011.
Q: The DreamWorks Animation studio is producing three movies a year now, all in 3D. How important is it for DreamWorks and others in the industry to get 3D into the home?
Katzenberg:  For our filmmakers who spend four years making these movies, for them to have these films enjoyed the way they were created and designed on these spectacular TV sets has come much faster and of a much higher quality than we had anticipated. This is several years ahead of (expectations). Three years ago, when we made the commitment to offer all our movies in 3D, we thought the home market would be five to seven years (out). And it’s here today and the quality is much greater than we had actually expected.
I think DreamWorks Animation was the first studio to commit 100% of production  to 3D; now many studios are doing more and more. We have sports channels, Discovery, ESPN, BSkyB, multiple platforms. Content creators and deliverers are committed to 3D in the home. And a lot is accelerated by how spectacular these TV sets are.
Q: Is wearing 3D glasses a hurdle for consumers?
Katzenberg: Many many many people wear glasses. What’s the big deal? And if you don’t wear them inside because you need them for quality of sight, in this day and age almost everybody who walks outside into sunlight wears sunglasses.  I think that stigma of wearing glasses was back to those days of cardboard red and blue goofy glasses that made you look like a dweeb. You felt like an idiot sitting next to a girl wearing those glasses.
Those days are gone. You see these new glasses — they’re beautifully styled. What is going to happen very quickly is the eyeglass companies are going to go into the business and people will make choices. Those options will be there within a year. 3D eyeglasses will become as common as the many choices as exist in sunglasses today.
Q: What will Blu-ray movies cost in 3D?
Katzenberg: You can’t buy the Blu-ray 3D version of Monsters vs. Aliens or Shrek. They’re exclusive to Samsung for a year. (The 4 movies in the Shrek series become available in 3D in the 4th quarter; Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D is just coming out now.)
Q: But what is your expectation about Blu-ray pricing?
Katzenberg: I don’t know yet. I’m not sure what the 3D premium will be when product makes it way to the market.
By Ed Baig


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