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'Monsters vs. Aliens' buzz gives boost to 3D revolution

  • Story Highlights
  • Buzz around "Monsters vs. Aliens" adds new momentum to drive for fully 3D industry
  • Economic slowdown affected introduction of 3D screens and projectors in cinemas
  • Other 3D films, like James Cameron's sci-fi "Avatar," slated for 2009 release
  • British film critic, Nick De Semlyen on 3D: "It's a revolution"
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By Neil Curry
CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Editor's note: Watch The Screening Room March show at the following times: Saturday 28 March: 0730, 1800, Sunday 29 March: 0530, 1830, Monday 30 March: 0400 (all times GMT)

Buzz around the release of DreamWorks' latest animated feature, "Monsters vs. Aliens," will add new momentum to the drive towards a fully-3D movie industry.

"Monsters vs. Aliens" star Reese Witherspoon poses with one of the film's characters, B.O.B, who is voiced by Seth Rogen.

DreamWorks Animation's 3D movie, "Monsters vs. Aliens" should give Hollywood's new medium of choice a welcome boost in tough economic times.

It is a welcome boost to the 3D schedule: The introduction of special screens and digital projectors into cinemas across the world has slowed in the last six months along with the economy.

Instead of the 5,000 3D screens expected to roll out, the figure is closer to 2,000, as the cost of installing new technology during the downturn causes pause for thought.

The release of "Monsters vs. Aliens," along with the recent announcement that Pixar 3D animation, "Up" will open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May, should give Hollywood's new medium of choice a lift.

"Monsters vs. Aliens," which U.S. movie industry bible, Variety describes as "'Monsters, Inc.' Meets 'War of the Worlds'" features a fight between a collection of well-loved movie monsters ( think 1950s B-movie characters like a 50 ft woman, a friendly amorphous blob, and a genius cockroach scientist) and alien invaders who want to take over Earth.

The brains behind the feature -- which has an all-star cast including Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland -- are Rob Letterman, the writer-director of Will Smith animated pic, "Shark Tale" and Conrad Vernon, the director of "Shrek 2."

The film is one of a number of 3D films, like James Cameron's sci-fi "Avatar," already in production that are slated for 2009 and 2010 release.

Of course, 3D is not new: Films like "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "It Came from Outer Space" first emerged during the affluent years of the 1950s, but because 3D was quite gimmicky the medium fell into decline and exhibitors turned their attention to other technologies.

"Monsters vs. Aliens" is one of the new breed of 3D movies, projected digitally and very immersive for audiences, that Hollywood is hoping will lure paying audiences out of the comfort of their living rooms and back into cinemas.

"Hollywood is throwing themselves into 3D like never before," said Nick De Semlyen, critic for British movie magazine, Empire.

"All the big directors from Spielberg to Peter Jackson from 'Lord of the Rings,' they are making 3D films and it's looking like pretty much every big film is going to be in 3D in the next couple years ... It's a huge thing, it's a revolution." Do you think 3D will be a movie revolution or is it all hype. Tell us below in the SoundOff box.

"Monsters vs. Aliens" is the first film that DreamWorks Animation, the Hollywood giant behind movies like the "Shrek" franchise, "Madagascar" and last year's "Kung Fu Panda," has designed from scratch as a purely 3D movie.

Dennis Laws is Chief Projectionist at the BFI IMAX, which is home to the UK's biggest cinema screen and also has 3D capability. He told CNN, "It's the first film from DreamWorks that was designed from the very beginning to be in 3D and DreamWorks are very proud of the fact."

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DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is probably 3D's most devoted advocate. He has said that the medium's introduction may be as significant to the movies as sound, and that all DreamWorks animations will be made in 3D from now on.

"Mr Katzenberg was so articulate in explaining what he wanted to do, and it was very different than anything that I had ever heard of before, which was 3-D used as a gimmick in a film," Keifer Sutherland told CNN at the UK premiere of "Monsters vs. Aliens." Watch Kiefer Sutherland talking about "Monsters vs. Aliens" Video

"He actually wanted to envelope the audience in the movie and make you feel like you were part of the scene.

"That not only knocks down the fourth wall between the movie and the audience but it also furthers telling the story."

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With commercial 3D still in its infancy, all eyes are on each new release to take in the advances in the technology, which is moving forward very quickly.

"The technology is growing really fast," De Semlyen told CNN, "It's very exciting."

Mairi Mackay contributed to this story.

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