One of the big surprises coming out of the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas this past week was the reaction towards 10 minutes of footage from director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – or more specifically, the look of the footage, which Jackson has chosen to shoot at 48fps (frames-per-second), as opposed to the industry norm of 24fps. While many, including James Cameron (Avatar), have touted this approach as the future of cinema, those in attendance were taken aback by the footage… and not in the way Jackson would have intended.
“The change from 24 frames per second to 48 frames per second is HUGE. It completely changes what every image looks like, the movements, the tone, everything is different,” wrote Peter Sciretta in his report over at /Film. “It looked like a made for television BBC movie… It looked uncompromisingly real — so much so that it looked fake.” These concerns appeared to be shared by everyone in attendance, and now Jackson has spoken up about the reaction in an interview with Inside Movies:
“At first it’s unusual because you’ve never seen a movie like this before,” says Jackson. “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… A couple of the more negative commenters from CinemaCon said that in the Gollum and Bilbo scene [which took place later in the presentation] they didn’t mind it and got used to that. That was the same 48 frames the rest of the reel was. I just wonder if it they were getting into the dialogue, the characters and the story. That’s what happens in the movie. You settle into it.”
The Hobbit sees Martin Freeman taking on the role of Bilbo Baggins and features a huge ensemble cast that includes LOTR alumni Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Orlando Bloom and Christopher Lee, as well as a host of franchise newcomers such as Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Evangeline Lilly, Stephen Fry, Sylvester McCoy and Benedict Cumberbatch. With a reported $500m investment in both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, everyone involved with the ambitious two-part prequel will surely be hoping that audiences are able to “settle into it” when the first movie arrives on December 14th.