‘The Hobbit’ May Not Be Presented At 48fps At Your Local Theater
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 at 11:01 am
With all the news about The Hobbit being turned into a trilogy spreading in the past few weeks, it was a little bit surprising not to hear director Peter Jackson address some of the issues and concerns about the film and its sequels being presented at 48 frames per second (fps). The projection rate was to have revolutionized the way audiences watched their movies. However, sneak previews of the film at 48fps failed to rile up any positive response. This left Jackson trying to pitch an encouraging spin for the new presentation format.
But that doesn’t seem to be working and now Warner Bros. is considering limiting the release of the 48fps version of The Hobbit: An Unexpected to only select locations. This could mean that major cities like New York and Los Angeles would get to see it in its intended format, while others will be left to watch the film at 24 fps.
In attempts to gain any positive reaction for 48fps, Variety reports that the people who have seen the film at the high-frame rate (hfr) in 3D say “the picture now looks vastly better than the test footage shown this April at CinemaCon, which had not yet undergone post-production polishing and got a mixed reception from exhibitors.”
The news may be encouraging to some, but I’ll take that quote with a grain of salt, considering the report doesn’t specify who exactly watched the film. Plus The Hobbit was presented at 24fps at the San Diego Comic-Con, which could mean that WB doesn’t believe the audience is ready to see this film at the hfr.
So the studio is doing all they can to protect the format by going forward with a limited release. Using the limited release would measure the reaction and help WB decide whether or not to release The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (and its sequels) in its intended format may sound like a smart move at first. But by doing so, it will disappoint fans who are interested to see what 48fps looks like. I for one haven’t seen 48fps in action, but considering that Los Angeles is just an hour or so away from me, I’d be willing to make the drive just to see it in its intended presentation. Not sure that I speak for everyone else though.
Since the film was already shot at the hfr, it would require some expense for WB to reduce the film to 24 fps, which is the rate that most theaters will play it. It isn’t a simple fix, as editors must add motion blur or risk the film looking extremely choppy.
What do you think about WB’s decision to limit the number of theaters presenting The Hobbit at 48fps? If you live in the general vicinity of one of the two major cities, would you be willing to drive out just to watch it the way Jackson intended you to see it?