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'Ice Age 3' at the center of a struggle over 3-D exhibition

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Twentieth Century Fox may be facing a potential exhibitor rebellion regarding its upcoming 3-D film Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Tuesday’s news that Fox would no longer pay the $1 million per-picture cost to supply theaters with the 3-D glasses needed to view its product was met with disdain across the exhibition community. “I’m already paying fees to RealD for the systems. I’m paying to put in the silver screens and I’m paying to train employees to run the product,” says one angry exhibitor. “To come in at this point and say they aren’t going to pay for the glasses, yet they want all the upside of the revenue, is ridiculous.”

The situation appears to have gotten so strained that Regal Cinemas, the nation’s largest theater chain, will only play Ice Age 3 on its 2-D screens, according to sources close to the company. Evidently, the glasses were part of a deal worked out long ago, when theater chains started installing the silver screens and digital projectors needed to view 3-D digital cinema, so to go back now and renegotiate after the equipment has been put in place is a difficult proposition.

Calls to AMC Theaters and Cinemark, the second- and third-largest exhibitors, had not been returned at press time, although two sources believe those theater chains will also stand up to Fox’s new demands. Bruce Snyder, Fox’s distribution president, says, “No exhibitor has said

they don’t want to play Ice Age in 3-D. All we are doing is working out the

issues.”

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