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