In the fall of 2008, AMC, Cinemark and Regal - the three largest theater chains in the United States - were trying to set up a deal to get millions of dollars in credit to finance the conversion of more screens into digital 3D projection theaters. Of course, we all know what else happened in the early winter: credit-freeze, financial meltdown, and mystery government bailouts.

As a result, of the 5,620 digital screens currently established nation-wide, only 22% - or 1,250 screens - have the capability for Real 3D, or other types of digital 3-D projection.

With about a dozen 3D films bowing into the box office this year, notably December’s Avatar from James Cameron, studios have started to worry that the distribution net isn’t wide enough to net the desired B.O. from expensive blockbusters (like Avatar).

DreamWorks Animation prez Jeffrey Katzenberg says he wants 2,000 digital 3D screens ready to roll out his Monsters Vs. Aliens 3D print in March, so Paramount is stepping in…

Paramount is offering to pay print fees directly to exhibitors who have the means to finance the conversion. Under its plan, Paramount will pay a specificed “virtual” print fee to a theater owner that converts at least 50% of screens to digital; the fee is higher for screens converted to 3-D, says Variety.

I’m just happy that the film industry isn’t waiting in the wings for government or the people en mass to save them. They’ve out their chips into 3D, so there really isn’t any turning back if you want your blockbusters to cross-over into the third dimension.

3D is the direction blockbuster films are leaning towards. In the near future, 3D will become just part of the BANG!WIZ!POW! movie experiecne, while indies and smaller films will continue to push creative ways to used tradtional 2D formats.

So it makes total sense that Paramount is going to invest in this now. Gotta spend money to make money!