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DreamWorks Animation's Katzenberg on 3D Growth

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is one of the biggest proponents of 3D in the business and I caught him for an exclusive interview at the 3D Entertainment Summitbefore his keynote address.

Four years ago he committed his studio to produce all its films in 3D, at considerable cost; now he says the bet has entirely paid off. He boasts that despite the recession 3D is growing, and helping the box office grow.

This is a crucial moment for the 3D business: we're wrapping up the first real year of a critical mass of 3D films and theaters.

With James Cameron's "Avatar" breaking all sorts of records, 3D technology was hailed as a savior for movie studios and theater chains. But this summer a number of 3D films, like "The Last Airbender" and "Clash of the Titans," have fallen short of expectations. And James Cameron publicly criticized low-budget "Piranha 3D" as "an example of what we should not be doing."

But Katzenberg says he's not worried, since moviegoers are willing to pay a premium for movies like his, which are produced in 3D. On the other hand, movies that are converted into 3D, do not do the medium justice. It all comes down to the quality of a film, and bad 3D can make a bad movie worse.

Katzenberg is still a huge booster for the medium. He says that the big problem now is that there aren't enough 3D screens to meet the demand. Pointing to a period this summer when 3D results failed to live up to expectations, he said the problem was that the films like "Despicable Me" and "Last Airbender" were fighting for 3D screens so theaters ended up projecting them in 2D. Still, during that crunch, revenues from the 3D screenings still contributed 25 percent of the box office.

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.