It’s that old “one/two punch”. Give ‘em the good news, then smack ‘em with the bad news.
When Peter Jackson decided to shoot the (now) three films in The Hobbit series in 48 frames per second (double the standard speed), his reasoning was that movies need to up their ante to hold the attention of the standard teenaged movie-goer. Knowing full well that a portion of his audience may have never seen any of The Lord of the Rings films outside of their living room, Jackson is hoping that the immersive nature of the 48fps shot in 3D will keep bringing the kids back to see more.*
Which, leads us to a strange case of Middle-Earth Epic WIN/Epic FAIL.
Jackson premiered footage from the 48fps initial Hobbit movie at Cinemacon, the reception was not entirely favorable. Now Variety reveals that the footage is looking much better, but your fellowship may literally have to walk to Mordor in order to see how good it looks.
- EPIC WIN (from Variety): “People who have seen much of the film in 48 frames-per-second 3D tell Variety the picture now looks vastly better than the test footage shown this April at CinemaCon, which had not yet undergone post-production polishing and got a mixed reception from exhibitors.”
- EPIC FAIL (also from Variety): “According to source familiar with Warner’s release plans for Peter Jackson’s first “Hobbit,” the HFR version will go out to only select locations, perhaps not even into all major cities. … But the studio still wants to protect the format by going into a limited release for the HFR version, hoping to test the marketplace and expand the HFR release for the second and third installments — provided auds are enthusiastic.”
One wonders if the limited initial 48fps release will lead to a re-release of the first movie in full 48fps glory when the majority of theaters are better equipped? Jackson is a master at the clever games of making you buy a DVD over and over, and speaking of those skills, will we see a re-release of the three Lord of the Rings films in theaters before or after The Hobbit trilogy? What are YOUR thoughts on the matter? Comment below!
*I hope Peter Jackson has considered that there are very serious dangers in making a prequel trilogy look better than the initial films that spawned it, but that happen later in the chronology of the story. For example, a child who had not seen The Lord of the Rings, but is taken to see The Hobbit in 48fps/3D first could be really let down when the following three films are not filmed in such a spectacular manner. Case in point would be my daughter, Abbey, who was first exposed to Star Wars with The Phantom Menace in the theater. She was always very cross when “her” Yoda (back-flipping, hoverchair-riding CGI Yoda) suddenly turned into a “creepy muppet” when she watched The Empire Strikes Back.
I tell you, these kids today.