‘The Hobbit’: Warner Bros. Will Limit High Frame Rate Showings in Theaters

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 2:00 pm,

The Hobbit High Frame Rate Theatrical Release The Hobbit: Warner Bros. Will Limit High Frame Rate Showings in Theaters

For those who are not well-versed in the vocabulary of film technology: Peter Jackson’s upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit (which is now, officially, a trilogy) has garnered some early controversy, due to Jackson’s decision to film at 48 frames-per-second – or double the rate of standard films, which typically run at 24 fps. The higher frame rate is supposed to make a movie look more “realistic,” by smoothing out motion and cleaning up images, so that events onscreen seem to look and move more in the vein of how the eye perceives real life.

With The Hobbit showing in both 48 fps and 3D, there has been much interest in Jackson potentially ushering in a new era of film tech; however, early screenings of The Hobbit received more negative press than Warner Bros. would have liked. As such, the studio is limiting the number of locations that will show the film in 48 fps.

Variety has the exclusive news that WB is going to release The Hobbit high frame rate (HFR) theatrical cuts only in select locations – and not necessarily nationwide. One might assume that this move comes under the weight of continued bad press – but to the contrary, Variety‘s sources claim that more recent screenings of the film in 48 fps have yielded much more positive results, now that Jackson has had a chance to add some post-production polish. The limited release is therefore rationalized as a prudent step to test the market for HFR movies, while still ensuring that viewers will be satisfied with their Hobbit experience, by offering a wide release at the safe and familiar normal frame rate.

the hobbit movies The Hobbit: Warner Bros. Will Limit High Frame Rate Showings in Theaters

HFR movie-making is poised to be the “next big thing” in cinema, following the IMAX, digital, and 3D advances in filmmaking that we have seen in the last decade. In fact, in film tech circles, preparation for the shift to HFR (48 fps up to 120 fps) has been going on for some time, with 3D camera and projection manufacturers already fitting their products with HFR native and conversion capabilities. The Hobbit will indeed be the guinea pig for the movement, and by early 2013, we should have a pretty good idea if HFR will become a new standard, or another failed experiment laid to rest next to Laserdiscs and Aroma Vision (safe bet is on the former).

If you’ve never seen HFR footage; some TV sets (like those made by rising company, Vizio) offer a “smooth-effect” that works like a bastardized version of HFR. Those who have seen the real deal report that it is a slightly unnerving experience at first, as it is somewhat like watching a stage play (especially in 3D), rather than a film. Standard film contains all the imperfections and graininess that tell the mind it’s watching a filmed image – which, for some (like myself), is a main component of an enjoyable viewing experience. HFR filming is not going to be an easy sell for those types – even when crafted by a talented and ambitious director like Jackson.

We’ll keep you posted on the availability of Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey HFR showings as the film edges closer to its December 14, 2012 release date.

Source: Variety

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  1. Defiantly looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with this time lol

    • Good for you! Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t look forward to.

      • That was art Adam. I literally lol’d. Not because of your beautiful comment but also because it was 1 year later.

        Thank you.

  2. The limited release of HFR 3D is not intentional, it is caused by the fact theater chains invested in expensive crap digital projectors that can’t handle 3D 48fps 2k, let alone 3D 48fps 4k. Only Imax 15/70 and the much cheaper Maxivision film formats are capable of showing 3D HFR 4K transfers at this time, and there are only a few ridiculously expensive Imax 15/70 film installs and NONE of the much cheaper Maxivision projector heads installed. Most of the new Imax auditoriums around the country are just digital installs. It’s the reality of the limitations of digital and theater chains jumping on the bandwagon and dumping money into crap that would, quite literally and pun intended, chain them to it indefinitely. And to correct all the morons out there, frame rate has ZERO to do with something looking video or digitally captured. In fact, shooting something at 24p in video gives it more capability to look less like film due to the maximum available exposures that can be used. But there are many areas where digital capture gives the opportunity to be inferior and look fake compared to film, but higher available frame rates is not one of them… for capture or playback. Anything people don’t like about the Hobbit they are misdirecting at HFR totally erroneously.

    • You are so dead wrong. Frame rate has everything to do with the ‘LIVE’ look because most humans eyes can’t perceive more the 60 to 70 changes in motion per second. I saw the 48p version and it looks like you are watching a play, not a film.

      • In other words, it looks real! Isn’t that the goal, rather than being conditioned to view movies as some kind of altered state of reality due to the shortcomings of the recording medium?

        • No – it doesn’t look real. It looks fake. It looks like “actors in costumes”. The 3D characters look realer than the actors because you can see the newness of the fabrics of the costumes and it just does not work. It’s cool as hell to see once as a novelty but suspension of disbelief is tossed out of the window. They killed the 2D 48p version because of that. Just looked like HD TV soap opera play.

        • No, it isn’t. The goal of a movie is not about being realistic. In fact, a movie works better when is a full altered state of reality. If it looks “too” real it would seem like a documentary or, as many people have put it, a play. The experience of watching a film in the big screen is magical one.

          If you can’t understand this little detail about movies it means you are the people that enjoy the “Michael Bay-esque” type of film or rather a Rollercoaster ride than going to the movies, and that’s fine.

          • I’m sorry, I have to disagree! the aim of films in not for none realism neither is it for realism. since it depends entirely on how the director intended the film to be perceived. so if PJ decided to make it this way then he his correct to do so.
            Just like artists using their own methods to create works of art.

      • Dead wrong about what? When people say something looks “video” or “soap opera”, it has nothing to do with overly high frame rate. Yes, HFR will look more real than 24/25fps. That’s the point. But the “video” look people complain about does not look real or “live”, it looks like crap. And it’s caused by a bunch of different factors people can pick up on other than high framerate when video is improperly shot. Go watch Public Enemies. Shot in 24p with way too long of exposures: blur soap opera city. And that’s just one of many factors that can make a difference. People complaining about 48fps have not seen it. The only people complaining about the HFR 48fps who have actually seen it will tell you they think it makes some of the CGI look more fake, which is not surprising. But for them to claim that 48fps is inferior or the culprit for their complaints rather than directing it at the CGI, they’re way off the mark. There are a lot of rumors on the net about video, how it has historically had certain problems, and how those are tied to higher framerates. My point is that this claim is in fact bogus. High framerate video is relatively new and most people have only been exposed to it with 720p sports broadcasts, and people don’t complain about that. People don’t know what they’re talking about. 48fps will look more lifelike than 24fps… especially in 3D, like VR versus art photography. It will not look like old episodes of General Hospital. That was back in the days of like pro Beta 30i. Same thing with people claiming their 240hz screen’s motion interpolation at home with LFR content is doing the same terrible thing they expect to see in The Hobbit. B.S. There is not such thing as true high frame rate interpolation at home. There are judder reduction algorithms, and most of them cause more problems (many of these bordering on old soap operas) then they help. People need to give HFR a chance and realize they have not in fact seen what they think they’ve seen. It will look different than film during lots of moving detail, but bad video looks the way it does for completely different reasons.

        • i agree with you 100%, i saw it a mere 5 hours ago and i have to say i was blown away. I didn’t even think the CGI was that bad.
          i even flinched when some arrows came towards the screen. when i watched the normal 3d version last week it didn’t make me flinch.

    • The limited release of HFR was intentional and had nothing to do with theaters that weren’t ready for it. I can name two theaters within driving distance of me that went to great expense to be ready and were denied the HFR version of the film. Way to take care of the theaters who make the money for you WB! There is no theater within a days drive of me that has HFR because WB is screwing the theaters and the fans.

      • WB took a bet with Jackson on a “new” tech (HFR’s been tried before and failed for cost reasons). To minimize the bet’s loss if it did not pay off, WB limited the exposure to the new tech to only 900 theaters worldwide. I think it was 500 domestic and 400 international, but not sure. When you bet in Vegas on a new game you’ve never played… do you play all your chips or only some till you get the hang of it?

        Also, that local theater probably also had to do it to meet the requirements of the bulk of distributors dropping film prints this year for digital “prints” and to add 3D. Greedy bastards… :)

        -CJ

        • The “greedy bastards” also refused to let the 2 screen theater in my town to only have one screen(of any film) in 3d. If they took a 3d, film both screens had to have one. Apparently they have a minimum number of screens that must be in 3d and it makes no exceptions for smaller theaters. Thus despite being set up for 3d, they will never show a film in 3d as a result.

  3. I just saw the Hobbit in HFR and I loved it. You do notice camera shake more, especially when the camera is panning. However, the action scenes were amazing. Everything was crisp and clear. I ever got a little vertigo in one particular scene.
    Using this frame rate put a lot of focus on costumes. What ever it looks like in real life will be what it looks like on screen, but they pulled it off.
    I really hope this becomes the new standard, but I feel directors and producers will shy away from it due to the pressure it will put on costumes, makeup and set design.

    • But then that was the same with Hi definition, directors could no longer have filing cabinet fill out a scene in the death star, or have bits of sets being black because they run out of budget (Yes this happen in Independent Day, the diner scene and it notable)

      It sound to me through that the best use of this technology may be in more arty type films, small intimate, and where you want you audience to feel like they are the same room with a few people, where there are not so many costumes and make ups and sophisticated CGI effects to distract the audience, and where realistic is the aim rather than fantasy movies. Just like 3D, only the big films have the budget to do this at first but the best use of it has been in smaller films, perhaps with the exception of Avatar.

  4. I just watched the Hobbit in high frame rate, out of curiosity.. I know, on its own in regular form, the movie would have been amazing, and I very much intend to go watch it or buy it in its REGULAR form to enjoy it.. but the high frame rate just absolutely killed the experience for me.. I wanted to enjoy the Hobbit so bad, I could see a good movie, but it was hidden by this higher motion.. Things at times moved WAY too fast, or annoying things stood out and made it feel too much like a play, the actors were just that, actors, and the sets, just that, sets.. it took away from a dreamlike world we all wish we could be in..
    I will say one positive thing, however. The landscapes were beautiful, but they would have been beautiful in 24 frames.
    In conclusion, high frame rate sucks, please never do this again.

    • Thank you! I concur!!

  5. But is it more expensive than normal films?

  6. A work mate referred me to this site. Thanks for the information.

  7. 3D HFR is the Future of Filmmaking. The difference between 24fpc and 48fps is so noticeable. After watching a 48fps films, 24fps is no longer satisfying. Now,120fps would have a Virtual Reality effect. I’m hoping, Cameron’s Avatar 2 & 3 will be shot in 8K @ 120fps.

  8. do not see this movie in hfr it’s awful looks very unreal and does not look natural

  9. just went and seen The Hobbit in high frame rate it was awful I walked out of the movie 30 minutes after it started did not want to ruin the experience going to go see it in IMAX 3d

    • Shockproof, Imax can’t do HFR 3D as far as I know. HFR is not going to look worse. It will just look less blurry during fast moving action scenes or with lots of moving fine detail. The rest people are complaining about is pure placebo effect and misplaced ill will… or just complaining about poor CGI motion modeling in general that has nothing to do with HFR.

      And no, HFR from digital cameras is not more expensive than normal, inferior 24fps… aside from double the rendering time for CGI post printing.

      • IMAX DOES do HFR 3D! We have it here in SIngapore theatres – https://www.shaw.sg/imax/

      • @Reticuli You can’t be serious!? Ray, as with many others, couldn’t stand the HFR, so he walked out early and decided to see it in Imax 3D..FREE from the likes of HFR.
        Placebo?!? Have you lost your marbles? Many people from major movie makers and critics to the average joe is complaining after watching HFR. Its as simple as watching a professional movie vs watching one homemade. The video is shot at different frame rates, and it is CLEARLY seen. Sorry, absolutely no placebo and no misplaced ill will. The ONLY reason,IMO, why more people are not complaining, or that anyone in Hollywood thinks this will go far, is simply because MOST people didn’t see the Hobbit(s) in HFR(or any movie for that matter). My theater had 3 different showings of The hobbit. The 3D HFR showing that I had seen, was practically empty..LOL
        HFR will end quickly for sure. Unless it improves a viewing experience when shooting in 48-120fps, and then downgrading to 24.
        I mean REALLY?!? Com’on people. They experimented with different frame rates decades ago. There is a reason why they have always shot 16-24 fps!!!

  10. I saw one of those limited screenings and it ruined my experience. I really hope this doesn’t last.

  11. There are 3 movie theaters within a 15 mile radius of me (ypsilanti, mi) that are playing the HFR 3D version. I haven’t decided which of the 4 formats I’m going to see. So… is that why the display of 3D glasses is so massive- because there are 3 different types of glasses? ( which is my way of wondering if I could walk into the theater for a few minutes to see what it’s like with my reg. 3D glasses)

  12. Btw seen it in Imax 3d and was awesome…million percent better than hfr