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Morast: 'Dragon' is leashed

If you're one of the irate parents wondering why the latest 3-D animated film "How to Train Your Dragon" isn't anywhere to be seen in the Fargo movie theaters, chill out a bit.

Astrid and Hiccup
Astrid (America Ferrera) and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) soar through the sky on the wings of Toothless in "How to Train Your Dragon." DreamWorks Animation / allmoviephoto.com

If you're one of the irate parents wondering why the latest 3-D animated film "How to Train Your Dragon" isn't anywhere to be seen in the Fargo movie theaters, chill out a bit.

There's a good reason why this movie, released last Friday, about Vikings and dragons isn't playing in a metro area full of people who are descendants of Vikings and alumni of a college with a dragon mascot.

"Dragon" isn't screening here because the film's studio is playing hardball with movie theaters. The studio, Paramount Pictures, has told theaters that if they don't plan on playing the "Dragon" in 3-D, they won't be receiving any 2-D prints of the kid-friendly flick.

It's an unprecedented move, and one that underscores the changing landscape of movie theaters trying to keep up with the changing technology of film.

Currently, only 3,500, or less than 10 percent, of the movie screens in the United States and Canada are set up for 3-D. Since it costs more for the studios to make 3-D films, they're fighting with each other to land their movies on 3-D screens that can charge an extra $2 or $3 for tickets that help recoup production expenses.

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And with three high-profile 3-D films released at the same time, studios are getting aggressive in the approaches to secure screens. Because Century 10 has been playing "Alice in Wonderland" on the 3-D screen through last night and starts "Clash of the Titans" in 3-D today, Paramount's hardliner stance has left us without a copy of "Dragon."

The situation hurts exhibitors around the nation. Because of the popularity of the medium, theaters are scrambling to get more 3-D technology fit into their auditoriums. But the demand has outpaced production of everything from 3-D-ready screens to 3-D glasses, leaving many multiplexes with only one screen set up for 3-D movies, as it is in Fargo.

Solarski says that it takes 12 weeks to get a 3-D screen once you've placed the order. Then there's the cost, about $100,000 for a screen, which means he probably isn't ordering four of five of them any time soon.

But West Acres 14, which is managed by the same company as Century 10, does have a 3-D screen on the way. Solarski says it should be ready by next Friday. And when that happens, Solarski says "How to Train Your Dragon" will play in Fargo.

Even if that sates the ire of all those parents with young "Dragon" fans, country music fans could be the next group to be upset. The late arrival of "Dragon" will likely mean the concert film "Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3-D" won't be in Fargo when it's released on April 21.

Of course, this means movie fans need to pray the second 3-D screen comes to town before the summer blockbuster season. Because if Paramount pulls this ploy with the new "Shrek" film, families are going to be really torqued off.

Local on 'Lost'

People who appreciate local ties better get up to speed on "Lost."

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Hannah Bell, the North Dakota State University alum I've previously written about, will be making her appearance on "Lost" this Tuesday.

And true to the mystique surrounding the cryptic program, Bell isn't spreading the word about her moment on the island. An NDSU official told us about the news.

No word on what role she'll have or how long she'll be on screen, but the episode airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on WDAY, Channel 6 in Fargo-Moorhead. NDSU will host a public screening in the Memorial Union's Prairie Rose Room.

Readers can reach Forum Features Editor Robert Morast at (701) 241-5518

or rmorast@forumcomm.com

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