Before I get to the meat of this week's column, I have a little appetizer of an issue to discuss. The other day, I went to see American Gangster at a Regal theater and once again participated in the Guest Response System. But unlike my first experience, I actually had to use the thing this time. While pressing the "Other Disturbance" button over and over and over because of a loud toddler, then finally after too long a time receiving responses in the forms of, first, a security guard and, second, a crew of ushers, I eventually realized that there is no way to communicate what exactly is the disturbance you're alerting the staff about. I don't want to say the parents of the toddler were covering the kid's mouth each time a Regal employee scoped out the auditorium, but coincidentally there was no disturbance whenever someone was monitoring the audience. And so, despite my having the little complainer pager, I put up with two-and-a-half hours of a sporadically loud child who should have never been brought to American Gangster in the first place.
Okay, now that I've got that off my plate, it's time to address the main topic of the week:
On Friday, Robert Zemeckis' new performance-capture "animated" film hits 2,800 screens across the U.S. More than 700 of those screens will show the film in digital 3-D, via IMAX, Real D or Dolby systems (yes, there's three different 3-D systems). It's apparently the largest rollout of a 3-D release ever, and it could mean big things for both Hollywood and the exhibition industry. Or it could be just another 3-D movie, no more an event than when Disney's Chicken Little came out a couple years ago touted as the first digital 3-D release to hit regular cinemas.