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'The Hobbit' Takes the Safe Route: 24 FPS Goes Wide, 48 FPS Goes Limited

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 8, 2012 at 1:43PM

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was supposed to lead the 48 fps revolution in the film industry, but now it looks like its debut will be more whimper than bang. After the film's 48 fps footage received mixed reactions at CinemaCon, and the filmmaker took the safe route at Comic-Con by screening "The Hobbit" footage at only 24 fps, Warner Bros. has opted to give the increased frame-per-second "Hobbit" a limited release on December 14, with the standard frame rate version releasing wide.
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The Hobbit EW

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was supposed to lead the 48 fps revolution in the film industry, but now it looks like its debut will be more whimper than bang. After the film's 48 fps footage received mixed reactions at CinemaCon, and the filmmaker took the safe route at Comic-Con by screening "The Hobbit" footage at only 24 fps, Warner Bros. has opted to give the increased frame-per-second "Hobbit" a limited release on December 14, with the standard frame rate version releasing wide.

Variety reports that a source speculates that the high-frame-rate "Hobbit" may not even hit all major cities.

The 48 fps test footage shown at CinemaCon in April had not yet received post-production smoothing, but Variety also reports that people who have seen more recent versions of the 48 fps think it looks significantly improved. But an initial reaction is just that, and WB doesn't want to tarnish box office on a pricey film that is only the first in a confirmed trilogy.

This article is related to: Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, Warner Bros. , 48fps


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.