No matter where you stand on the issue of director Peter Jackson shooting his now three-part adaptation of "The Hobbit" in 48 frames per second — twice the standard film speed — at least it won't cost any extra to watch it that way. At least, not any more than what you're already spending to watch the film in 3D. That's particularly good news for anyone that saw the 10 minutes of footage that Jackson unveiled at CinemaCon earlier this year, where the reaction was mixed at best.
While theaters will have to upgrade the software on their 3D projectors in order to present "The Hobbit" in 48 fps (and it ain't cheap at around $10,000 per projector), Variety reports that Warner Bros. decided that the usual $3-5 3D surcharge was enough, and exhibitors have agreed. "The Hobbit" will be presented in 48 fps in a limited capacity, so it will be specifically for those looking to test out the frame rate.
Since CinemaCon, Jackson hasn't shown more footage in 48 fps, but did ask for patience with the frame rate in response to the criticism. "At first it’s unusual because you’ve never seen a movie like this before," said Jackson in April. "It’s literally a new experience, but you know, that doesn’t last the entire experience of the film; not by any stretch, after 10 minutes or so. That’s a different experience than if you see a fast-cutting montage at a technical presentation."
Reportedly, the 48 fps rate gives a less cinematic look and instead has an appearance more akin to television. Some critics did say that the frame rate added to the 3D experience, but if 48 fps is to become the standard for 3D movies, it's going to need more trial and error, with Warners not wanting to miss out on a big payday with "The Hobbit" if audiences find the experience too jarring. Like we said, at least it won't cost anything extra when "The Hobbit" opens on Dec. 14th.