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Jackson's 'The Hobbit' 48FPS Version May Get Limited Release First

by
August 8, 2012
Source: Variety

The Hobbit

Say what now? What hath the marketing mavens at Warner Bros come up with. Variety is reporting, from a "source familiar with Warner's release plans", that the studio is planning to open the 48FPS version of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in limited theaters this December. While they don't have any more details behind WB's decision for this, it's obvious this is likely due the response to the mixed-to-negative impressions of 48FPS footage at CinemaCon. Plus, it gives them a chance to build up the 48FPS experience over the next three years, since we're now getting three movies. How limited will the release be?

We're not sure how limited yet, since this is the first we've heard of this, but Variety hints it may be touted as a hard-to-find experience. "According to source familiar with Warner's release plans for Peter Jackson's first Hobbit, the HFR version will go out to only select locations, perhaps not even into all major cities." However, they go on to add that Warner Bros is still very keen on 48FPS HFR, just trying to figure out what to do. "Warner Bros. is convinced that high-frame-rate movies are the next big thing -- but they're keeping the first HFR release fairly small." Based on the large groups of people saying "I still want to see what the 48FPS version is like in the theater", why not make it limited and unique like seeing TDKR in 70mm IMAX.

Then again, Variety says WB isn't sure what will happen when The Hobbit opens in December. "The studio still wants to protect the format by going into a limited release for the HFR version, hoping to test the marketplace and expand the HFR release for the second and third installments -- provided [audiences] are enthusiastic." There's also still the issue of converting existing theaters to the high-frame rate systems, which Variety claims "there are still no theaters ready" yet, and we're only three months away. Are theaters planning to make the switch? Will there only be a few locations as an "early" test? We'll have to wait to see.

For now, it sounds like the high frame rate 48FPS version of The Hobbit might not be available everywhere, and Peter Jackson will continue to keep the focus on the content, the movie itself. Heck, if they can convince a few crowds, they could even sell HFR as the ultimate Hobbit experience. I'm anxious to see the finished version myself, but we've got a few months until then. Are you planning to see The Hobbit in 48FPS?

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  • dbucks
    As long as they release it in Washington DC, I am happy.
  • racquetman
    I live half way between Chicago and Detroit. I would like to see the 48 fps presentation but there is no way I am making the drive to either city just for a doubling of frame rates. If by some miracle my local IMAX theater has it then I'll check it out.
  • David Banner
    Could it be a clever way of saying the theaters didn't want to upgrade-again? I know they will "have to" again, on the sound side, so maybe they just said "too soon" ?
  • Danimal
    I'll probably see it at normal frame-rate first just so it doesn't ruin the movie for me (judging by all the negative feedback)....then I'll see it in 48-fps...cause i'm verrrry curious
    • inappropriate_response
      this seems like the best way to deal with this format change. talk about seeing more the second time you watch it.
      • wolverine
        Which explains why they are doing the two formats. It's the latest gimmick to draw you in, it's not enough to pay only once for the movie anymore.
  • guy
    San diego bitches.
    • webitube
      Yes, San Diego! Edwards 18 Imax in Mira Mesa! 48fps or bust!
  • Grichmer
    Does anyone know what kind of upgrade is necessary for a digital system to play movies at 48FPS? Do the projection systems actually need a software upgrade? Would this be a processing issue? I know that file storage and transfer rate could be an issue, but some of these issues could be handled through proper file management practices.
    • bozo connors
      remember seeing that it was indeed only a software upgrade away for certain... Christie projectors I think? I imagine theaters just aren't in a rush (judging from recent experiences with management - er... mis-management.)
      • Grichmer
        lol. Yeah, Christie projectors were the ones I was thinking of.
        • max
          Some older projection equipment can't be upgraded, but most newer ones can. Just don't look for 4K projection anytime soon.
  • cinemabandit
    It's a good thing that Peter Jackson is a part owner of a local movie theater in my town. I don't think we would get 48FPS in Wellington otherwise.
  • max
    For a new format that's supposed to be the difference between night-and-day, they sure seem to be nervous about it. Maybe it's more to do with the cost of upgrading (again).
  • LosZombies
    Well, theres an IMAX down the street from me, so just go ahead and toss some of that 48fps my way, ya?
  • dee
    San Diego Edwards 18LIEMAX, do yourself a favor and drive up to Irvine for a true IMAX experience

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