LOS ANGELES Walt Disney Co. said on Monday it
would set up a new film company with "Polar Express" director
Robert Zemeckis to develop three-dimensional animated movies.
Three-dimensional animation has had limited release, but
movies shown in the format have been profitable. Theater chains
charged a premium of up to $4 on each ticket for 3D versions of
Disney's "Chicken Little," the first modern 3D animated movie
released by a major studio.
Zemeckis, who produced the Academy Award-nominated animated
film "Monster House," would produce and direct an undisclosed
number of films for the new studio using performance capture
technology with longtime partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey.
Financial terms were not released.
Zemeckis has made two films, "Polar Express" and "Monster
House" using performance capture, and is at work on a third
film, "Beowulf," for release for Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures
In performance capture, actors wear bodysuits embedded with
sensors that allow a camera-equipped computer to record their
movements. The data is fed into a computer, which renders the
movements in three dimensions (3D).
When watched with polarized glasses, such films have
effects that appear to jump off the screen.
When Disney showed "Chicken Little" in specially equipped
theaters in 2005, the film brought in 2.5 times the revenue per
showing of traditional versions of the film.
The digital 3D versions of Disney's "Nightmare Before
Christmas" and Sony's "Monster House," released last year, also
earned at more than twice the average per-screen box office of
their 2D versions.
Disney plans a 3D release for its next animated film, "Meet