The number of theaters capable of projecting movies at high frame rates (48 fps, 60 fps) has nearly doubled since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrived a year ago, according to The Wrap:
The studio is substantially expanding the number of theaters this time around. As many as 750 theaters will exhibit “The Desolation of Smaug” in the enhanced projection — up from roughly 450 theaters the first time.
Internationally, the increase in HFR 3D theaters is even more impressive, with Desolation playing on almost 2,500 screens, up from 1,669.
Warner Bros. has intentionally been very quiet about HFR 3D in the months and weeks leading up to Desolation‘s release. Last year, of course, discussion of AUJ’s 48 fps 3D was ubiquitous, with Peter Jackson, WETA and others writing articles and doing interviews about it, and with critics, movie/Hobbit fans, and tech enthusiasts all weighing in.
The response from critics leaned towards the negative, even though the great majority of movie fans seemingly either loved the experience outright or appreciated it while desiring improvements/tweaks. So it makes sense to me that Warner Bros. wants the media’s focus to be on the movie and not its format this time (Peter Jackson told a reporter that “technology drove a lot of the reviews” of AUJ).
Press screenings for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have all been in standard, 24 fps 3D to prevent this.
I think this is a good thing – this year the talk regarding HFR 3D will almost all be from Hobbit fans, and not fogey critics. I’m very much looking forward to reading people’s thoughts especially given rumors that Jackson has taken steps to mitigate the most` common complaints people has regarding AUJ’s HFR 3D.
I’d bet that the overall buzz will be very good for HFR 3D this time around, thereby building support and momentum for future high frame rate movies. Last time the negative noise from 24 fps traditionalists (most professional movie critics) was just too loud, resulting in the specious and commonly parroted conclusion that the HFR 3D experiment was a failure, an d coloring reviews of the movie.
The Wrap’s story confirms what I had long suspected due to my observations of packed HFR 3D showings: that HFR 3D was in great demand, selling out theaters many weeks after opening night:
“With the original ‘Hobbit,’ we kept selling out of tickets for our high frame rate auditoriums,” Russ Nunley, a spokesman for Regal, said. ” There was a huge demand from moviegoers who wanted to see the film exactly the way director Peter Jackson shot it.”
Regal’s HFR 3D screen count has increased dramatically, going from 100 last year to almost 400 this year.
IMAX has doubled their worldwide HFR 3D screen count to 100+, IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster tells The Wrap, adding that the number will rise since IMAX is still negotiating HFR 3D locations in China.