In response to analysts’ questions during the company’s Q1 earnings conference call, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg unloaded a multi-dimensional pile of frustration at the pace of digital cinema indtallations (and consequently, the 3D installations that depend on them).
“In the last 30 days, things have not progressed as well as I had hoped, expected and, quite frankly, been committed to, by all the parties involved,” Katzenberg said in response to an analyst’s question. “It’s ongoing as we speak literally now, but in terms of getting the big three (exhibitors: Regal, Cinemark and AMC) on board and actively moving forward, I feel as though things have dragged along, and it’s been pretty disappointing.”
Exhibitors and distributors are in the midst of tough negotiations over Virtual Print Fees (VPFs), both how many and how much the studios will contribute toward each VPF.
“If these guys don’t get their act together very quickly in the next 30 days, they’re not going to be able to achieve that goal,” (Katzenberg) said. “Every week that goes by, it’ll be several hundred less screens that manage to be rolled out in the time frame.”
This line of reasoning sounds strangely familiar:
Katzenberg’s accusations come just a couple of weeks after National Assn. of Theater Owners prexy John Fithian made similar remarks from the other side of the bargaining table during the Digital Cinema Summit at NAB. “If the studios want this to happen in time for 2009, the deals have to be struck, and they have to be struck right now,” Fithian said at the time.
Despite the opportunities for increased profits from additional 3D screens, in the earnings call Katzenberg asserted that “what we are confident of being installed will pay for our investment.”
You can listen to the entire DreamWorks conference call here.