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'?

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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.


  1. Well I have to say that HFR is one of the best technologies to hit film in forever, that mixed with 3D gave me one of the best all around movie experiences I’ve ever seen. HFR brought so much realism to the movie it was unbelievable, for the first time I actually felt I was THERE with the characters while everything was happening, all the action scenes, scenery pan shots and well, the entire movie was so smooth. You could see everything at all times with no hiccups in anything. Fly over landscape shots looked amazing and I so felt like I was flying over those mountains myself.

    The detail in the sets, costumes, swords, makeup are all so much more amazing to look at, I always appreciated the time and work that went into anything that had to do with practical FX, but HFR just makes it even better.

    Hell even the CGI was better in HFR and that was the one thing I thought would stand out from the rest of the film, but it didnt to me, the amount of time and perfect motion capture of the creatures, especially Gollum have to be seen to be believed, Gollum was real to me in this movie and thats one of the greatest feats I’ve ever seen anyone do, 3D itself isnt the step forward that film needed, but 3D mixed with HFR is fantastic and HFR in general is just amazing on all levels, I look forward to seeing this again (hopefully) and to seeing more movies filmed this way.

    Thank you Peter Jackson!

  2. Barsoom Bob

    FTW Went to an early Sat. Regal RPX 48FPS Dolby Atmos showing to experience it in this new format after seeing and enjoying it last week in 24FPS.

    The 48 FPS was something. I did not experience any of the “overcranking” or sped up motion. The amount of clarity and “solidness” to the 3D image was astounding. It is so detailed that it does reveal the tricks of the trade in make up and set construction, they are going to be forced to up their game if this format catches on. You can’t just paint a piece of wood to look like a weathered fence rail, it will have to be pretty much the real thing other wise it is going to look fake. This effect is most apparent when outside in natural light and both the 24fps and 48fps outdoor shots look over exposed, that may have been DP issues or the tech just was not calibrated for strong natural light. Once the scenes shift to inside, real sets or fake, it goes away and you have this really real looking image. I reflectively ducked out of the way at several things that were coming at me from the screen. This lush fantasy world was probably a poor choice to be the first feature in this format, a slick sci-fi movie using this format would approach “you are there” territory.

    The Atmos system was super terrific. The amount of control and immersion was quite effective. In the stone giants fight, I was pretty much tracking boulders flying over my head. Now, they did use gimmicky sound mixing to heighten the effect. Some voices were separated from where their image was on screen and pushed to the extreme sides to give you a start, but it was cool, they didn’t over do it.

    This was my first RPX experience and it was pretty nice. Much more comfortable seating, and everything about the presentation was first class. But there was no early morning discount, and the ticket was $20 straight up. Normal NYC movie with 3D surcharge is $17.

  3. Hein

    I am of the PC elite race, nothing below 60fps is acceptable! 48fps will have to do I suppose.

    Kidding aside, go see this in 48 frames, quite amazing, and I hope the idiotic comments of old geezers unwilling to change doesn’t deter Peter Jackson from making the rest in 48fps as well.