Jackson to shoot ‘The Hobbit’ in 48p

Technical shift may present conundrum for New Line

Peter Jackson’s plans to shoot “The Hobbit” at 48 frames per second — twice the current rate — marks the beginning of a technical shift in moviemaking that’s as significant as 3D, color, or even sound.

But the world’s first 48p feature also presents a serious hurdle for New Line, as retrofitting the quickened print to play in analog projectors, which still operate at the majority of screens, is not so simple.

Jackson posted on Facebook on Tuesday that he is shooting the “Lord of the Rings” prequels to make his movie look “much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3D.”

James Cameron, who has verbally committed to shooting his “Avatar” prequels at 48p or higher, touted the new tech at CinemaCon last month as the next leap forward in 3D storytelling. “If the 3D puts you into the picture,” Cameron said at the conference, “the higher frame rate takes the glass out of the window.”

Though production on “The Hobbit” has only just begun in New Zealand, Jackson was quick to convert to Cameron’s vision for smoother action and crisper 3D visuals .

“We’ve been watching ‘Hobbit’ tests and dailies at 48 fps now for several months, and we often sit through two hours worth of footage without getting any eyestrain from the 3D,” he said. “It looks great, and we’ve actually become used to it now, to the point that other film experiences look a little primitive.”

The nation’s nearly 16,000 digital projectors — about half 3D-equipped — are capable of handling the higher frame rate. But the majority of movie theaters in the U.S., more than 23,000 in 2010, still take film prints, for which 24p is standard.

Making “The Hobbit” compatible for those screens isn’t as easy as taking out every other frame, which would create a jerky image. Instead, it’s necessary to combine pairs of consecutive frames to a single image in post-production.

Warner and New Line have not addressed their plans for film prints for “The Hobbit,” and did not respond to requests for comment. Exhibitors were also not available for comment.

Jackson said that while there may be as many as 10,000 screens worldwide capable of showing his movie at 48p by the time the pic is released, that figure isn’t certain. “I see it as a way of future-proofing ‘The Hobbit,'” he said. “Take it from me — if we do release in 48 fps, those are the cinemas you should watch the movie in.”

More Digital

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    U.S. Consumers to Spend $26 Billion on Music, Video Subscriptions This Year

    U.S. consumers are expected to spend a combined $26 billion on music and video subscription services this year, according to new estimates from the Consumer Technology Association. That’s up from $20.4 billion in 2018, and nearly twice the amount spent on such services in 2017. Propelled by the continued success of Apple Music and Spotify, [...]

  • New AirTV Mini improves cord-cutting experience

    Dish’s AirTV Releases New Android TV Streaming Stick

    Dish’s AirTV subsidiary is releasing a new streaming device designed to combine over-the-air broadcast TV with the company’s Sling TV service and other streaming services. The new AirTV Mini streaming stick looks similar to a Fire TV stick, and is powered by Google’s Android TV software. The AirTV Mini stick is 4K-capable, allowing consumers to [...]

  • BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior

    BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior VP of Licensing

    BMI today announced that David Levin has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Licensing, effective immediately. In his newly expanded role, Levin is responsible for all of BMI’s domestic licensing and revenue generation, encompassing radio, television, digital media, cable, satellite and general licensing.  Levin, who will oversee teams in New York and Nashville, reports [...]

  • James Murdoch

    James Murdoch Invests $20 Million in The Void, a Location-Based VR Startup

    James Murdoch, former CEO of 21st Century Fox, has invested $20 million in The Void, a startup specializing in location-based virtual reality (VR) experiences, Variety has confirmed. The funding comes through Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, a holding company that Rupert Murdoch’s younger son established with $1 billion in proceeds from the sale of his stake in 21CF [...]

  • Norah O'Donnell's 'CBS Evening News' Isn't

    Norah O'Donnell's 'CBS Evening News' Isn't Just For TV Viewers

    Norah O’Donnell will make her “CBS Evening News” debut, of course, on TV. But that doesn’t mean CBS News isn’t mindful of the new ways in which news aficionados get their information in an era of smartphone alerts and viral tweets. When O’Donnell launches a new era at the venerable newscast this week, complete with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content