An odd, and potentially disappointing move on the surface, but a keen and cagey one from a political perspective. In an L.A. Times article with director Peter Jackson about what to expect from his “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” presentation at Comic-Con this weekend, the Kiwi director revealed he would not be showing the film in 3D and or in its 48 frames per second state.
Why? Well many pundits are already claiming its because Jackson is afraid to receive further negative press from the 48fps-gate controversy at Cinema-Con earlier this year when fans and audience members in attendance objected to what many described as the very unusual and “unnatural” look of this faster frame rate. While Jackson admits, showing the film in 24fps and in 2D is in part to avoid further negativity — the critiques have also seemed to legitimately irked the filmmaker in various interviews — he also doesn’t believe that a positive or negative reaction at Comic-Con is going to have much impact either way.
“I think it’s more about protecting the downside, rather than helping the film in any significant way,” he said. “There is a huge audience waiting to see ‘The Hobbit,’ and any positive press from Comic-Con will truthfully have little impact on that. However, as we saw at CinemaCon earlier this year, with our 48 frames per second presentation, negative bloggers are the ones the mainstream press runs with and quotes from. I decided to screen the ‘Hobbit’ reel at Comic-Con in 2-D and 24 frames per second, so the focus stays firmly with the content and not the technical stuff. If people want 3-D and 48fps, that choice will be there for them in December.”
Well, the plus is Jackson confirms that audiences will have their choice of non-3D and non-48fps at Christmas, but the quote about negative bloggers and the mainstream press feels a little slanted. Many geek-friendly bloggers were in attendance at CinemaCon and it was some of those same, very loyal fans and writers that complained about the 48fp look. Sure, as Jackson has said several times now, the new visual experience wears off in ten minutes and then the viewer will become accustomed to it. We can buy that argument for sure, within the context of “The Hobbit,” 48fps may not be jarring and strange, but to unilaterally indict all the reaction at CinemaCon, some by respected geek journos, seems more than little unfair and convenient.
But, we suppose Jackson’s the man and it’s his film so the choice of presentation is all his, but we couldn’t fault you if you said Jackson blinked first. And oh yeah, apparently there was rumor about a third “The Hobbit”? Well, studio honchos have quashed that telling Variety there are “no planned or surprise announcements” and “the plan was always for two.”
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” hits theaters December 14th.