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Mid-Week Poll: How Will You See ‘The Hobbit’?

This weekend, Peter Jackson kicks off his ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel trilogy with its first installment, the eagerly-anticipated ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’. In addition to bringing fans back to Middle Earth, the director is also using this opportunity to debut the new (and already divisive) 48 frames-per-second photography process. Will you seek out screenings of ‘The Hobbit’ in 48 fps, or will you stick with traditional formats? Vote in our poll today.

Even since a ten-minute excerpt from ‘The Hobbit’ was screened for attendees of the CinemaCon conference earlier this year, fans have expressed dismay at reports that the 48-fps footage suffered from so-called “Soap Opera Effect,” similar to engaging the frame interpolation features (MotionFlow, Smooth Motion, Ultra Motion Plus and so forth) on an HDTV. Many viewers who saw the presentation left disappointed, claiming that the clips looked less like a movie than like behind-the-scenes footage shot on the set of that movie.

At the time, the studio attempted to downplay this reaction by reminding fans that the footage was screened in an incomplete form, without finalized color grading, visual effects or other post-production refinements. Peter Jackson insisted that the problem was simply that viewers will need more than ten minutes to get used to the 48 fps effect, and that even skeptics will be won over by the end of the film’s three-hour run time.

Well, here we are close to release, and members of the media have finally seen the completed film. Unfortunately, many (including our site’s own Michael Palmer and Aaron Peck) returned with the same impression as those CinemaCon attendees: The whole movie still has the Soap Opera Effect, and looks like a TV with MotionFlow turned on.

The question still remains whether this is necessarily a bad thing. Is our predisposition toward the “film look” of 24 frames-per-second photography just a generational bias? Will younger viewers raised on videogames and YouTube videos notice or mind a different appearance in new movies?

Are you still curious to check out 48 fps for yourself, or have you decided to see ‘The Hobbit’ in a standard 24 fps format?

How Will You See 'The Hobbit'?

View Results

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For a list of theaters that will show ‘The Hobbit’ at 48 fps, see this page or this page. Unfortunately, the sites do not specificy exactly which auditorium(s) in each theater are equipped for High Frame Rate.

The IMAX web site has an additional list of theaters that will show the movie in both IMAX and HFR 3D.

54 comments

  1. lordbowler

    I’m first in!

    I’m going to see the High Frame Rate, and maybe see it again in Standard 3D if the movie is as good as I expect.

    I’ve read a review or two that is mostly positive of the High Frame Rate, so I’m really excited! I’ll know by 12:30 AM Friday Morning how its going.

    • lordbowler

      I would’ve chosen the 3D IMAX HFR, but our FauxMAX theater only has the one IMAX screen and its the 24fps.

      I was happy we even got the HFR option.

  2. Alex

    I’m content with 24fps. That’s how my pappy did it, that’s how my grandpappy did it, and that’s how I’ll do it.

    Now, you kids GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

  3. Luis

    Fandango.com tells you which showings will be in HFR 3D.

    I will probably be seeing it in HFR 3D with Regal RPX. RPX sound is amazing. I also have access to several local 70mm IMAX screens, but I want to check out this new technology.

  4. Pyronaut

    I’m in for Ultra AVX HFR 3D with Atmos. Can’t wait!

    This past weekend my friends and I had a Lord of the Rings marathon and just to get a preview of what it would be like for the Hobbit I turned on the motion smoothing on my projector. At first it was weird and almost felt like a BBC documentary, but we soon got used to it and I didn’t like going back to what felt like choppy video with it off. That leads me to believe that I’ll like the 48fps of the Hobbit.

    Most of what’s negative about it is because it’s different than what we’re used to and “feels” like something other than cinema. If one can get past that then it can be an enjoyable experience. There are plenty of times when I didn’t like something new because it was different than what I was used to (things as simple as tabs in a browser or the wheel on a mouse) but after I forced myself to use it for a while I got used to it, liked it, and didn’t want to go back.

    • William Henley

      Same here, although I may wait a couple of weeks for that, as the closest theater to me that has Atmos is about 45 minutes away. Tons of theaters showing it in HFR, so I will probably do that Friday morning, as I am off Fridays.

      • Really? Tons of theaters? Wow, that must have been a significant financial investment. Over here, only a few select screens (from multiplex cinemas) will be showing the HFR version. At premium pricing, no less.

        The movie had its premiere last night and one of my friends remarked :

        “The 48fps (the High Frame Rate) was great. It took a bit getting used to, but it felt very natural with most things (except like drops or sparks). The 3D however gave a lot of eye-strain, and made it difficult to keep viewing the movie. I had to take off my glasses every few minutes. Some shots just made me feel sick. But it indeed adds a lot of realism.
        What doesn’t work however, is when you mix CG locations, and add blue-screen people in front of it. It just feels off and pasted. The rabbit-charriot chase looked horrible. Gollum and Smaug on the other hand looked absolutely fantastic. Model work also shined.”

        • William Henley

          I live in a major metropolitan area of about 7.5million people. Pretty much, all of the major theaters are carrying it in HFR. And from my understanding, most digital projectors just need a firmware update or something to allow them to do HFR – there is no need to buy new projectors, so the cost was minimal.

  5. Barsoom Bob

    I’m going to see it in regular 24fps 3D first because I do want to have a good experience when experiencing the story for the first time. Then I will go back and see it again in regular HFR 3D to evaluate the new technology experience. IMAX is out for me because it was not shot on IMAX cameras.

    I am usually someone who is all for new technology, but there is too much smoke for there not to be a fire on this one. Perhaps it is like the TV industry and they didn’t realize just how much more detail was going to
    show up, heavy make up, lines on people’s faces and the artifice of constructed sets. To utilize this new format, they may have to make a serious upgrade to all the movie craft aspects in order to maintain the illusion of reality.

  6. Drew

    I have tickets for both Friday and Saturday. On Friday, I’m seeing it the way Mr. Jackson wants me to. HFR 3D Dolby Atmos! On Saturday, I am seeing it in a way that is, perhaps, even more exciting, to me – A GINORMOUS IMAX screen with HFR 3D! I can’t wait!!!

  7. JM

    I’m waiting for ‘The Hobbit’ extended edition trilogy on blu-ray so my first viewing can be the entire story in a marathon. TV-on-blu-ray-esque.

    ‘The Hobbit’ already has a sad little metacritic. 3D, 48fps, theater audiences, and year-long delays between episodes (of a 300p kiddie book with a weak story structure and no romance plot) is a whole lot of wait for netflix.

    Now if a sequel to ‘Baraka’ was playing in 48fps IMAX, I’d buy 5 tickets…

  8. Scott

    Looking at the list, can’t believe Tupelo, MS is on the list. What I CAN believe is that the crappy theater gets the good movie…as always. It used to drive me nutz living there because the nice, gorgeous, new, advanced theater would NEVER get the big movies. For Iron Man, I drove an hour to Oxford, MS to see it in a better theater. ugh!

  9. Won’t see it in either format. I love the book and re-read it every year or so along with the first dune book. I can’t believe he’s squeezed three movies out of a straightforward tale – turning a story of one character (thus the name ‘The Hobbit’ for the book) into an ensemble tale where completely unrelated appendixed material is being fully revealed. Very disappointing.

    • William Henley

      Its been years since I read it, but I seem to remember that, when they go into the cave, the book goes for about 20 pages talking about the history of Middle Earth and long-ago wars and such. Maybe you have an entire movie dealing with that.

    • Pyronaut

      That’s the difference between the movie and the book. He’s expanding on some of the characters and plot details a little, so that, and the fact that the 120 or so pages of appendices are being used, are what enable the movie to be made into the trilogy.

      It’s directly addressed by Jackson in the latest 13 minute video released about the film(s).

      How well it translates is left to be seen, but judging from past experience, I’m expecting not to be disappointed.

      • That story is not the story of The Hobbit, which makes this automatically a translation of the book that I’m not interested in. It entirely misses teh point of this as a story where a character discovers his courage. What Tolkien wrote for rich world-building was not required to tell THIS story.

  10. IMAX 3D in regular 24, the closest and ONLY theater around that has 48 is about an hour or more away and I just cant get there to do that, which is fine, not gonna mess up my enjoyment thats for sure :)

  11. Zuul

    I just saw it in 48 fps 3D last night. The effect is really startling… and not in a good way. The opening portions in the Shire look like a soap opera. Do you want The Hobbit to look like Days of Our Lives? Then go see the 48 fps version. Loved the movie, but the new technology is a distraction and makes you feel like you are watching a behind-the-scenes special on the making of the movie. Peter Jackson did such a wonderful job making this movie feel like the same Middle-earth we loved in LOTR, so please don’t ruin it by seeing 48 fps. Trust me… choose the standard frame rate and it will look like the Middle-earth you remember.

  12. I saw it in 48 FPS 3D on Monday. It was fairly mind-boggling. I was dizzy for the first 15 minutes or so, after which I got used to it and really liked it. Just don’t expect it to be like anything you’ve ever seen before, because it’s not. I’d still like to get back and see the film in 24 FPS, but it’ll be some time before that happens – I already have two more screenings scheduled and they’re all 48FPS.

  13. 3D IMAX 24fps to me. I actually WISH non-3D IMAX was an option, but I can live with the 3D (I rarely go to a 3D movie WITHOUT getting a headache, although watching 3D at home is never an issue…I’m guessing because half the time the projectionist hasn’t properly focused the picture and it’s always just a little off).

  14. Drew

    Zuul,

    Please cease your trolling at once. First, and foremost, I highly doubt that you have even seen the movie. Secondly, you are doing nothing more than ruining the enjoyment and enthusiasm that many of us are experiencing, in anticipation of seeing it in 48fps. All of your comments reek of troll stench. You’re just copying the comments of those made by the people that saw the 10 unfinished minutes. Your “General Hospital” comment is especially phony.

    Other forum readers, please don’t pay any attention to Zuul. See the film how you want, and decide for yourself, whether or not the new technology is transcendent, or underwhelming. Don’t let comments spoil your excitement.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      It’s very possible that he’s seen the movie, and seen it in 48 fps. I see no reason to doubt his claim. The movie has been screened extensively for critics, media and other specially-invited groups.

  15. I would love to see this in 3-D IMAX HFR but sadly there are no theaters offering that near me. The cost of traveling to the nearest city offering IMAX 3-D HFR, plus parking, plus ticket, just doesn’t really make it worth it.

  16. Pyronaut

    I don’t see the point in all this “don’t do it” or “yes, do it”, because at the end of the day it’s a subjective experience and it also takes a bit of time to get used to.

    From what I can tell from the review on this site of how it looked in 48fps, it is similar to (but not exactly the same as) the motion interpolation thing. I imagine it would be a little better than that though since it’s native and not interpolated.
    So if you hate frame interpolation then there’s a good chance you won’t like The Hobbit in 48fps and will probably complain about it if you see it like that.

    I doubt it’ll be like a soap opera though. I don’t watch soap operas but from what I’ve caught while flipping past them, I don’t see how a major motion picture could look like that. The image quality looks much different. TV cameras aren’t the same as what the Hobbit was shot on, and the post processing isn’t either. In the same way that when a TV show transitions to film (Star Trek, Firefly etc.) it has much more of a “movie” look and doesn’t resemble the image of the TV show, I don’t think the image of The Hobbit will resemble anything like a soap opera.

    Having watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy with frame interpolation on, I never thought it looked like a soap opera, and after the initial adjustment I got used to it and rather liked it (and so did many of the others watching it with me).

  17. tomandshell

    I saw an IMAX HFR 3D screening last night. It was the best looking thing I’ve ever seen in a theater.

  18. Drew

    Josh, it doesn’t matter whether he has seen it or not. That’s not the point. His comments are still pure troll. You might not have any reason to doubt his claim, but his phony comments give me all the reason I need.

  19. Ted S.

    I saw it at IMAX HFR 3D about a week and half ago, they screened it for local press here in Mpls, MN; I thought some scenes looked like “soap opera” but many looked great. To be honest once you get into the movie, you probably won’t notice it. Go to see it and judge it for yourselves.

    I’m actually going to see it again at the regular HFR 3D screen next week.

  20. Zuul

    Um, OK. Well, YOU can see it in whatever format you want. You actually sound like a troll for just throwing out that term when you read something you don’t agree with.

    I’m just telling people who might not have three hours here, three hours there to watch a movie in different formats that the 48 fps looks like one of those TVs in Best Buy with the “smooth motion” feature turned on. It looks artifical– like inside a TV studio and not a film.

    I actually saw the movie at the Grove in Los Angeles last night at a press screening (look it up). Want spoilers? Not going to do it to prove anything to you. I am a huge LOTR fan and really enjoyed The Hobbit, so not trying to squash anyone’s return-to-Middle-earth hopes. I still wish I had spent nearly three hours seeing it in the standard frame rate instead of trying out this HFR experiment that, in my opinion, has no place in a theater.

  21. Drew

    There you go again… “One of those TVs in Best Buy…”

    Just leave it alone! You’re doing nothing more than trolling. If you really have seen it, and that’s your impression, it’s your loss. Go see it in 24fps, and let the rest of us decide for ourselves.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      OK, enough bickering, please. People who have seen the movie in 48 pfs are welcome to post their opinions here. We’ve already had some people say that they like it, and others that they didn’t. The debate is useful for those on the fence.

  22. Drew

    Yes, DEBATE is useful. TROLLING is not! Calling The Shire “General Hospital”, saying that it looks like “One of those TVs at Best Buy…”, and urging people not to see it in HFR is decidedly NOT DEBATING.

    • Mike Attebery

      It’s his opinion. Folks are still allowed to give their opinions, sorry. For example, I would rather kill myself than watch this movie in any format.

  23. I would love to see it in HFR 3d, that is if Warner Bros wasn’t being so stingy with releasing that format. There are at least 2 theaters in driving distance from where I live that made expensive upgrades to be ready for this only to be told no by WB. The nearest theater to carry it is 6.5 hours away from where I live. Bad form WB!

  24. Saw the 24fps screening last week and thought it looked great. I walked out of the 48fps screening tonight about 120 minutes in. It looked terrible, imagine watching a Avatar in 3D with 120/240hz on… that’s The Hobbit HFR 3D experience.