[UPDATE: Fox has denied that the 48 fps rumor is accurate.]
With the 2013 summer blockbuster season behind us, fall is now underway, bringing the usual awards-season prestige releases. There's still plenty about the summer of 2014 to look forward to, though, and Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past is easily one of the main draws. Adapting one of comic book's most acclaimed story arcs, the new film is a time-travel saga which unites the cast of the original X-Men films with their younger counterparts from X-Men: First Class - along with new faces like Peter Dinklage, Omar Sy and Evan Peters as Quicksilver.
While we've had a number of sneak peeks at some initial footage, along with Singer's generous set tweets and some clever viral marketing for the mutant-hunting Sentinels (the brainchild of Dinklage's villain character Boliver Trask), word on one potentially controversial aspect of the production has been quiet until now: whether or not DoFP will be shot and presented in 3D at 48 frames per second.
Anyone who followed Peter Jackson's divisive choice to shoot his Hobbit trilogy in the new format knows that 48 frames per second is twice the normal frame rate of standard film recording and projection (24fps). Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey bowed to box-office success, but the reaction to the 48fps format was decidedly mixed. The main question was whether or not the choice was aesthetic (as Jackson claimed) or yet another gimmick designed to lure fans into the theater for a bigger, bolder cinematic spectacle.
Back in the spring of 2013, Bryan Singer had reportedly told Bleeding Cool that "they’d be shooting in 3D but at the typical 24fps." Now, word from AICN claims that while the 3D format for Days of Future Past was always a given, the film was shot in the new format, as well.
According to an unnamed "second source:"
"X:DoFP was shot in HFR and will be released in 48fps. The filmmakers played coy because of the negative reaction to the technology when the Hobbit film was released, but love the results and will be standing behind a theatrical release in high frame rate."
While it's normally prudent to take these unnamed sources with several tons of salt, there's a good chance this one is accurate, with a confirmation by the director or studio soon to follow. Singer was reportedly very excited by his initial look at Jackson's first Hobbit installment, and while early reviews of the technology were mixed, (but read ours for another perspective), the decision to push DoFP through at 48fps now has a strong precedent, not to mention that James Cameron may be shooting Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 in the higher frame rate.
While the fiscally sound aspects of 48fps will outweigh many of the the pros and cons, it should be noted that that Singer's film will of course be set in a very different universe. The drawbacks of seeing The Hobbit in that format - a reduction of the "graininess" of 24fps film, allowing more detail of Jackson's craftsmanship to come through - which for many only highlighted the artificiality of the world - could actually enhance the details of Days of Future Past, with the sci-fi elements potentially better suited to the 3D effect than the high fantasy of Middle-earth.
We know that Singer is shooting the scenes with Quicksilver's super-speed powers in 3600fps, which, when projected at either 24fps or 48fps, sounds like an exciting showcase for a super-power which has yet to be fully depicted onscreen. (A a case could be made for Zack Snyder's depiction of Superman's speed in Man of Steel - but even there, many would expect a Flash movie to be different in design). We have also had some glowingly positive reactions to the careful use of 3D in Gravity (read our review here); if Singer approaches DoFP's extra axis with similar care, it could be another big step forward for 3D in 48 frames per second.
UPDATE: A Fox spokesman (via Variety) has denied that X-Men: Days of Future Past will be screened in 48 fps during its run in theaters.
Bryan Singer directs X-Men: Days of Future Past with newcomers Peter Dinklage, Omar Sy, Boo Boo Stewart, Fan Bingbing, Evan Peters, Adan Canto, Josh Helman, along with returning stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry, Lucas Till, and Daniel Cudmore.
X-Men: Days of Future Past will be in theaters on May 23, 2014.
Update Source: Variety