Peter Jackson’s upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey generated a lot of interest earlier this year when the director screened part of the film in its 48 frames-per-second format. This controversial high-frame rate technology left some of the 3-D audiences unimpressed at the CinemaCon exhibitors’ convention in Las Vegas in April.
Now, we understand that major theater chains are listing specific locations that will actually show the film in 48 fps (the first-ever upgrade from the traditional 24 frames) when it opens on Dec. 14. According to Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., the 48 frames version will play in only about 450 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. Tentpole studio pics like The Hobbit usually open in about 4,000 houses. These high-frame screenings will take place in or near most major and mid-sized cities, said Fellman. Theaters are not expected to charge additional ticket price premiums for the high-frame rates in addition to the 3-D surcharges. Moviegoers will be able to see the movie in 3-D or 2-D on regular and Imax screens.
“450 is a very manageable number [of theaters] for us to make sure the installations are proper and can be checked before the movie plays,” Fellman said. “If the success is what we think it will be, by the second Hobbit we’ll be much wider.”
Here is the latest trailer for the long-anticipated film: