Finally, Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will screen in its original 48 FPS version in only about 450 of its approximate 4,000 release locations on December 14. That was not the original plan. Warner Bros. distribution president Dan Fellman tells TOH! that the majority of the higher frame rate screenings will happen in or near most major and mid-sized cities. (More detail at the LAT.)
L.A. moviegoers interested in the ultra-real image quality of the 48 FPS version are in luck, with 19 of the city’s theater locations between the AMC and Regal chains showing the film in the new format. Aside from the FPS options, viewers can also choose between seeing “The Hobbit” in 2-D or 3-D.
The decision to keep the 48 FPS version to a limited release came a few months after footage screened at CinemaCon in April, leaving the media unimpressed with the look of the film, which is so photo-realistic that it has the appearance of a behind-the-scenes video as opposed to a glossy blockbuster. Fellman says that exhibitors responded more positively.
While James Cameron and other filmmakers successfully pushed theaters and mainstream moviegoers to adopt digitally projected 3-D, educating the masses on 48 FPS may require a slower introduction. Fellman says that theaters who want to play the 48 FPS will have to make an adjustment to their digital download protocols. And if the higher frame rate version of “The Hobbit” plays well for moviegoers and theaters, Warners will “go for it,” he says. It’s easy to add screens. “It’s not a premium price point.”