Can Pumbaa and Timon Save 3-D?


Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.
Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze.
It means no worries for the rest of your days.
It's our problem-free philosophy -- Hakuna Matata!
-- The Lion King's "Hakuna Matata"

Simba, Pumbaa, and Timon are making another run at the silver screen.

Disney's (NYS: DIS) The Lion King -- the highest grossing non-computer animated film of all time -- begins a two-week cinematic run tomorrow. We're not celebrating some magical anniversary of its defining 1994 release. The family entertainment giant is just gearing up for an October retail release on Blu-ray -- and for the first time on Blu-ray in 3-D format -- so it figured hitting the corner multiplex for a few days may milk some more box office receipts.

Theatrical rereleases don't typically fare all that well. The pricing elasticity on nostalgia doesn't have as much slack as you might think. However, Disney's throwing in a new wrinkle here by putting out the film in Disney Digital 3-D.

This is a move that should help both exhibitors -- who charge a few bucks more for screenings in 3-D -- and Disney itself. After watching Mars Needs Moms bomb earlier this year and Cars 2 fall well short of the original, Disney's iconic animation stronghold is feeling as mortal as Mufasa.

This is also a chance for RealD (NYS: RLD) and IMAX (NYS: IMAX) to win back investors, since both stocks have shed more than half of their value in recent months.

No, the movie isn't hitting your local IMAX. This is more about proving that folks will still pay a premium for enhanced cinematic experiences, whether it's a RealD-outfitted 3-D screen or a super-sized IMAX outlet.

Sure, the final installment in Time Warner's (NYS: TWX) Harry Potter franchise was a cause for validation. Unfortunately, the sleeper success of less sensory fare including The Help, Bridesmaids, and Midnight in Paris also helped dispel the notion that super-sizing a film or handing out 3-D specs was necessary for studios this summer.

This doesn't mean the very future of premium cinema is in Simba's hands over the 14 days to come. After all, families will know that they can just wait three weeks and buy the Blu-ray. Then again, that's when Disney may be relied on to save the stagnant realm of 3-D televisions.

Poor Disney. A mouse's work is never done.

If you want to see if premium cinema does bounce back addRealDandIMAXto My Watchlist.

At the time thisarticle was published Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Disney. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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