Up to 10 minutes of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be screened in 3D at 48 frames per second during a Warner Bros. slate presentation Tuesday at CinemaCon.
The Hobbit will be one of many films that will be previewed at the theater owners confab, where for the first time in at least a decade, all of the major studios will present preview clips of their upcoming slate. The newly merged Lionsgate and Summit is also in Las Vegas to screen What to Expect When You're Expecting.
Millions of fans around the world are eagerly anticipating the prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which grossed an estimated $2.9 billion worldwide.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will also become the first major motion picture to be made at the high frame rate (HFR) of 48 fps.
Frame rates are the number of images displayed by a projector within one second. 24 frames per second (fps) has long been the standard in cinema, but Jackson, James Cameron and Douglas Trumbull are among the filmmakers who are urging the industry to consider higher frame rates — what they believe will greatly reduce or eliminate motion artifacts.
Some HFR-related announcements are expected at CinemaCon, as digital cinema equipment manufacturers are working to be able to support whatever the demand might be from exhibitors and studios.
Series 2 projectors from Barco, Christie and NEC — between 40,000 ad 50,000 are currently installed worldwide, according to Christie — would be able to show The Hobbit at a HFR with a currently available software upgrade and a piece of hardware called an “integrated media block” (IMB) equipped to play 48 fps, vendors explained.
Between Cinemark and Rave, there are nearly 4,000 screens in North America that currently have Barco Series 2 projectors with the required software and a Doremi IMB with beta software to make it capable of playing HFR, Barco vp of digital cinema entertainment Patrick Lee told The Hollywood Reporter.
Sony expects the majority of its 13,000 installed 4K digital cinema projectors to support high frame rates by the time The Hobbit is released Dec. 14.
While many have an eye on The Hobbit’s December release date for the update, there is some speculation that a 48fps trailer might be released as early as July (though The Hobbit will also be available in 24 fps).
At CinemaCon, which opens Monday at Caesars Palace, The Hobbit clip is scheduled to be shown using a Christie projector with the RealD 3D system.
Cameron — who demonstrated the potential of HFRs last year at CinemaCon — has said that he intends to make Avatar 2 and 3 at HFRs.
Trumbull is developing ShowScan Digital, a patent-pending process that uses 24 frames per second but allows the filmmaker to embed up to 60 frames per second sequences in order to provide creative choice to filmmakers.
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