Warner Bros put on an incredible presentation at the 2012 CinemaCon in Vegas today, showing off clips from Dark Shadows (complete with an appearance by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp), The Dark Knight Rises, Rock of Ages, The Campaign, and The Great Gatsby as well as bringing out the directors from each of those films (except for Gatsby) to briefly chat up their films. We'll have more on the total presentation later, but The Hobbit and its 10 minutes of never-before-seen footage deserves a separate descriptive write-up. Peter Jackson was unable to attend the event as he's busy in the editing room working on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but he did tape a message explaining why he chose to shoot the two Hobbit movies at 48 frames-per-second (fps) rather than the standard 24 fps.
We won't reveal any spoilers about the unfinished footage that was shown (green screens appeared in shots as this was just rough footage), Jackson and Warner Bros did show off fight scenes (including a couple of shots of Orlando Bloom as Legolas in action), more intimate conversations between lead characters, and grand sweeping shots of the scenery. It was, simply put, mind-blowing to see in 48 frames per second. It's literally like being on the set next to the actors as they're performing.
As Jackson also explained, he chose to show 10 minutes of footage because it does take a moment for your eyes to adjust to the higher rate, something I noticed extremely briefly before becoming totally immersed in the footage. You can not get a more genuine, realistic viewing experience than this unless you are watching a performance live.
Said Jackson, "As a filmmaker, I always want to create a strong sense of reality, to allow the audience to lose themselves in whatever the cinematic story is that I'm presenting. Shooting and projecting at 48 fps gives you the illusion that a hole has been cut in the wall of the cinema, and you're watching the story unfold with a heightened sense of reality. It's terrific for 3D; I've looked at the 48 fps dailies for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 3D for over a year now, and with the reduction in strobing and flicker, it is a much more gentle experience on your eyes. 48 fps is not just limited to 3D. A film shot in 48 fps looks fantastic when projected in 2D, and converts well to 24 fps as well."
Once audiences get to see The Hobbit screened at the 48 frames per second rate when it's released in theaters on December 14, 2012, I can guarantee moviegoers are going to demand all films be presented at 48 fps.
The official synopsis: "The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers."
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey. The cast also includes Richard Armitage, John Bell, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Ian Holm, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O'Gorman, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Andy Serkis, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, Aidan Turner, Hugo Weaving and Elijah Wood.
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Edited to add: In response to an email from a reader named Simon, here are a few more details:- RE: the 48 frames. I think it will take a bit of adjusting our expectations, but I've never a movie that jumps off the screen and immerses you in the film the way this 10 minute piece did.
- RE: the performances. On par with Lord of the Rings, with Martin Freeman appearing to be the perfect Bilbo.
(Photo © New Line Cinema and MGM)