Variety is reporting that the studio is keeping the high frame-rate release “fairly small...[in] only select locations, perhaps not even into all major cities.” That may be because general audiences don't know/care what 48fps is yet, or because currently there still aren’t any theaters ready to project at the higher frame rate. And that latter point in particular, seems to be the stickiest. The cost of upgrading the software in digital projectors was previously reported to be in the neighborhood of $10,000 and moreover, some projectors aren't able to make the boost, so theater owners in some case would need to buy all new equipment. But even if projectors can be upgraded, the process isn't easy, an depending on what theaters have, additional hardware might be required.
And while vendors are touting 48fps as the wave of the future (of course they are, they have equipment to sell), we'd reckon theater owners may be wary after dropping all kinds of money in recent years to upgrade their theaters for digital and 3D, only to see audiences for the latter becoming much more choosy about what they pay premium dollars for. Undergoing a potentially costly and complicated process for the sake of one movie -- even if it is "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" -- is probably a hard sell for many.
As we get closer to the December 13th release date, the studio will most likely release a list of theaters that will be equipped to handle the new format, so prepare to make some road trips folks. Or will you? Does seeing a movie in 48fps interest you at all? Or is just another high tech fad aimed at getting even more money out of your wallet?