With studios looking for more and more ways to razzle/dazzle audiences, and get a higher ticket price at the same time, directors are taking up the challenge. Guys like Peter Jackson and James Cameron are pushing things forward with “The Hobbit” due later this year in select cinemas in 48fps and “Avatar” breaking in the blockbuster 3D era. They both regard the technology as progress, but as two other prominent directors have recently demonstrated, there are still quite a few helmers devoted to a more classic style of cinema.
During a press conference for his sophomore sci-fi effort, “Elysium,” Neill Blomkamp fielded a question about both 3D and higher frame rates in film -- likely meant to bait him into trashing his former mentor Jackson -- and whether he'd integrate the technology into future projects. Blomkamp understood that, “If you were to show a child who's six months now a 48fps movie, when they're sixty, it'll be as familiar to them as 24fps are for us now. But there may be an alien quality from 48fps; it has kind of a hyper-realism that takes away the cinema of it. I don't actually like 48fps. I prefer 24fps.” By no means a complete dismissal, as he also expressed a preference for 2D over 3D, saying that there are other directors like Cameron, Jackson, and Martin Scorsese who know how to effectively use it, but he's not convinced of its superiority.
Keeping nicely in line with that perspective, Christopher Nolan has long been an advocate of 35mm and 2D, but has now taken his point up a notch by simply stating his social circles feel the same way. “The question of 3-D is a very straightforward one,” Nolan said in a recent interview. “I never meet anybody who actually likes the format, and it's always a source of great concern to me when you're charging a higher price for something that nobody seems to really say they have any great love for.” Nolan has obviously put the legwork into backing up that point as well, since the director basically lifted the IMAX format out of nature documentary waters and into a distinctive draw for narrative studio filmmaking.
Of course, the unfettered support from WB to allow Nolan the budget for IMAX -- as well as follow the director's demands that “The Dark Knight Rises” be projected on IMAX film projectors in around 100 locations -- allows the format decision to remain simple. However, Nolan is keener on 3D these days, brought on by films like “Hugo,” but also more delightfully Baz Luhrmann's wonky extravaganza “The Great Gatsby.” He plans to buy a ticket because the 3D promises “you're going to be in Baz's head,” but dialed back a little, saying, “I'm fascinated to see what he's going to do, but I don't want any filmmaker to be pushed into doing something they don't want to.” That situation where every filmmaker has the creative choice to tackle 3D or 48fps may not be entirely here yet, but audiences can sure play an essential part in deciding where they put their ticket dollars on a Friday night. [SlashFilm/Salon]