Walt Disney is going 3-D on a lot of future films — and some from its past.
The studio announced Tuesday that 3-D versions of the computer-animated tales “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” will be released Oct. 2 for a two-week run as a double feature. Disney also is preparing a 3-D version of its hand-drawn animated musical “Beauty and the Beast” for release Feb. 12, 2010.
The “Toy Story” double bill is an “offer to moms and dads and people of all ages that they can come back to the movie theater and they can see two movies that they loved in 2-D format. Now they can see them in 3-D format for one price,” said Mark Zoradi, president of Disney’s motion picture group. “This was a way to kind of create an event with a very good value proposition given today’s economy.”
With 17 3-D releases in the works through 2012, Disney offered a preview of its lineup at ShoWest, an annual convention of theater owners.
The Disney 3-D slate includes Pixar Animation’s “Up” in May, Robert Zemeckis and Jim Carrey’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” this November, Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” starring Johnny Depp, and a follow-up to the 1980s sci-fi adventure “Tron.”
The Disney-Pixar partnership also has next year’s “Toy Story 3” and 2011’s “Cars 2” coming in 3-D.
The movies are part of a 3-D wave in Hollywood that includes last weekend’s hit debut from DreamWorks Animation, “Monsters vs. Aliens.” More and more theaters now are equipped with projectors that can show films in the new digital 3-D technology.
“Up” marks the first 3-D release from Pixar, whose films include “WALL-E,” “Ratatouille,” “The Incredibles” and “Finding Nemo.” Director Pete Docter showed the ShoWest crowd the first 47 minutes of “Up” in 3-D, along with an action sequence from later in the film, which features Edward Asner providing the voice of a cranky old man who uses thousands of helium balloons to fly his house on a South American adventure.
Unlike 3-D movies of old Hollywood, which generally used the multidimensional images as gimmicks to give audiences some cheap thrills, the makers of “Up” applied the 3-D techniques judiciously, Docter said.
“We chose different sequences or different moments to really punch out, to give you the depth. We didn’t want to wear people’s eyes out or get them too used to this extreme depth,” Docter said. “We kind of played it a little conservative, and then when we really want the impact, you go for broke.”
Other upcoming Disney 3-D films include this summer’s family action comedy “G-Force,” the fairy tale “Rapunzel” and Burton’s horror comedy “Frankenweenie.”
“Alice in Wonderland” marks the latest reunion between Burton and Depp, whose collaborations include “Edward Scissorhands,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Corpse Bride.” It also reunites Disney and Depp, who donned buccaneer’s headgear for the studio’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” blockbusters and now will play the Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland.”
“Any time this guy wears a funny hat, it’s always good for us,” Zoradi said.