I dunno whether to file this under good news or bad. The number of theaters that were going to present Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit‘s in 48fps has gone from a whole bunch, to a handful.
What’s this about 48fps? Well, the industry standard is 24fps, but I’ll spare you the technical differences and give you an example instead. You know that setting on your TV that gives BluRay movies that soap opera look to it? Yeah… that’s pretty much what Peter Jackson wants The Hobbit to look like. Jackson is under the belief that a higher frame rate makes a better movie viewing experience. Is he right? Most critics say no.
Jackson presented ten minutes of footage at CinemaCon – the annual gathering of theater owners – and the response was not good. In fact, most folks who have seen the 48fps down right hate it. The “it’s too real and not film like” appearance has really thrown folks for a loop. It’s funny, the intention was to make a more immersive experience, but the effect is producing the opposite result.
Jackson has gone on the record saying ” I think, ultimately, it is different in a positive way, especially for 3D, especially for epic films and films that are trying to immerse the viewer in the experience of a story.” Clearly Jackson has the best intentions and maybe this is the future of movies, but this revolution in cinema may be a head of its time. If the response from CinemaCon was any indication, I think it’s safe to assume mass audiences aren’t quite ready for 48fps.
It appears Warner Bros. agrees with that sentiment…
Variety is reporting that the studio is scaling back their plans for the 48fps release of the movie. Sources tell the trade: ‘the [high frame rate] version will go out to only select locations, perhaps not even into all major cities.’
The article tries put a positive spin on the decision, saying that the studio wants to ‘protect’ the format and roll it out slowly… assuming audiences in those cities like what they see.
To me, the limited release implies showings LA and NY, and not much else. So anyone outside of those key areas are probably never gonna see the new format. Is this a good or bad thing?
While I’m genuinely intrigued to see the difference, I can’t say I’m all that broken up over this. 48fps may be objectively better, but IMO, I just think The Hobbit, with the distinct look and atmosphere LOTR, had, was the wrong film to test it out on.
The Hobbit will be in three flavors when released. A 2D version at 24FPS, a 2D 48FPS and 48FPS 3D. Which would you prefer to see?