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The Hobbit will be one of many films previewed at the annual theater owners confab in Las Vegas, where for the first time in at least a decade, all of the major studios will present preview clips of their upcoming slate. The newly merged Lionsgate and Summit is also in town to screen What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Millions of fans around the world are eagerly anticipating the prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which grossed an estimated $2.9 billion worldwide.
The Hobbit also will become the first major motion picture to be made at the high frame rate of 48 per second.
Frame rate is the number of images displayed by a projector within one second. The cinema standard has long been 24 fps, but Jackson, James Cameron and Douglas Trumbull are among the filmmakers who are urging the industry to consider higher frame rates — which they believe will greatly reduce or eliminate motion artifacts.
Some HFR-related announcements are expected at CinemaCon, as digital cinema equipment manufacturers are working to be able to support whatever the demand might be from exhibitors and studios.
Series 2 projectors from Barco, Christie and NEC — 40,000 to 50,000 are installed worldwide, according to Christie — would be able to show The Hobbit at a HFR with a currently available software upgrade and a piece of hardware called an integrated media block (IMB) equipped to play 48 fps, vendors explained.
Between Cinemark and Rave, there are nearly 4,000 screens in North America that have Barco Series 2 projectors with the required software and a Doremi IMB with beta software to make it capable of playing HFR, Barco vp digital cinema entertainment Patrick Lee told The Hollywood Reporter.
Sony expects the majority of its 13,000 installed 4K digital cinema projectors to support high frame rates by the time The Hobbit is released Dec. 14, though the film also will be available in 24 fps.
While many have an eye on The Hobbit’s December release date for the update, there is some speculation that a 48fps trailer might be released as early as July.
At CinemaCon, which opens Monday at Caesars Palace, The Hobbit clip is scheduled to be shown using a Christie projector with the RealD 3D system.
Cameron, who demonstrated the potential of HFRs at last year’s CinemaCon, has said that he intends to make Avatar 2 and 3 at HFRs.
Trumbull is developing ShowScan Digital, a patent-pending process that uses 24 frames per second but allows the filmmaker to embed up to 60 frames per second sequences in order to provide creative choice to filmmakers.
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