Archived blockbuster films to get 3D treatment

Following the surprising success in North America of the recent re-release of The Lion King in 3D hitting the top of the box office, plans are in the works for such classics as Star Wars, Titanic and Top Gun to be converted to 3D format for theatrical release.

George Lucas is overseeing the 3D versions of his six Star Wars titles and expects to rerelease Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace to theaters in February 2012, with the other five films released in 3D at the rate of one a year. The Blu-ray version of Star Wars, released in mid-September, broke records.

The company behind the process, Legend3D, is converting catalog titles to 3D, which costs about $10 million per film to complete the process thoroughly. Prices are dropping - conversion did cost $100,000 per minute and is now as low as $25,000 a minute.

An avid 3D advocate, James Cameron will releases his 1997 epic Titanic, the second-highest-grossing movie of all time, converting it to 3D as an $18 million project. The three-hour film will be released in April 2012, timed with the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking.

The intended effect is to add a sense of reality and immediacy to the historical drama with the original filmmakers involved. Tony Scott will be available to oversee Top Gun.

The Lion King in 3D, which cost less than $10 million to convert, has earned $60 million so far with the new release. A Blu-ray will follow in October.