A couple of months ago Warner Bros was pretty high on The Hobbit's 48fps look. They proudly trotted out ten minutes of footage at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of theater owners - the very folks who would have to pony up the money to upgrade their systems for the new frame rate. But the response was bad. I hated it. And then at Comic-Con WB only showed the footage in standard, 24FPS - and 2D, at that.
Now Variety is reporting that the studio is scaling back their plans for the 48fps release of the movie. Sources tell the trade: 'the [high frame rate] version will go out to only select locations, perhaps not even into all major cities.'
So probably just LA and New York? The article spins the decision, saying that the studio wants to 'protect' the format and roll it out slowly... assuming audiences in those cities like what they see. What's interesting is that WB will have to pony up money to downgrade the footage to 24fps for the majority of its release. An extra, pointless expense (I've also heard rumors that the films are being further worked on in post so that the home video release maintains the same look as the original trilogy, so another cost).
I think it's sort of weird that most people will never even have a chance to see the film in its intended framerate. And that the decision on whether to release the 48fps versions of the next two films will be made based on the reactions of very limited groups. On top of that Variety doesn't mention what, if any, extra cost there will be for 48fps. If it's high having this version be super limited could be a way of convincing folks it's worth ponying up extra cash.
What a bummer that this is what we're talking about. I think that content-wise The Hobbit looks great. I wish that was all that mattered these days.