DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg is in the middle of a tough road trip. The man behind such family hits as Kung-Fu Panda and Shrek has been touring North America to promote what he’s determined as cinema’s next great innovation: 3-D.

Now, that may sound odd. After all, the fad of 3-D surfaced decades ago and since has become something of a punchline, which is exactly what’s making Katzenberg’s mission so challenging.

By treating journalists to a sneak peek of his groundbreaking InTru digital 3-D comedy Monsters vs. Aliens — coming in March — Katzenberg is showing off how digital advancement has breached the campy fourth wall that was once reserved for such B-movies as 1953’s Robot Monster and Cat-Women of the Moon.

“It was used as a gimmick,” said Katzenberg about the historical use of 3-D. “It doesn’t replace a great story, so we come back to the very fundamental aspect of this, which is (that) Monsters vs. Aliens is great in its own right … but I think to be able to experience it in 3-D is something really exciting.”

Katzenberg is not alone in this sentiment. While other films have been adapted for 3-D screenings, we’re entering a year filled with 3-D-conceived projects, including My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Pixar’s Up, Disney’s A Christmas Carol and James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar.