This morning I asked the editors/reporters at Deadline, Variety, Hollywood Reporter and TheWrap why there hasn’t been any coverage of yesterday’s bombshell about WB and Peter Jackson deciding not to show their Hobbit footage in the much-ballyhooed (or should I say formerly ballyhooed?) 48 frame-per-second format during Warner Bros.’s product presentation at Comic-Con tomorrow afternoon.
“That was pretty big news yesterday and unless I’ve missed something, I don’t see anything on Deadline or Variety or The Hollywood Reporter or TheWrap about it,” I wrote. “What’s up with that?
“A major Oscar-winning director and Warner Bros. make a huge and historic investment in a new photographic and projection technology on a major end-of-the-year film — a format that has the potential to be a huge game-changer in terms of action-driven, effects-driven, CG fantasy films — and then they show it last April at Cinemacon, and then they back off from showing it at Comic-Con out of fear of negative blogger reactions, and you guys aren’t going to say boo?
“Is this because Geoff Boucher broke the story and you don’t want to give props to him and the LA Times?
“You’re all going to touch upon it, I’m presuming, in your coverage of the Warner Bros. presentation tomorrow (i.e, Saturday afternoon) but what is Jackson going to say when questioned during tomorrow’s panel? The same thing he said yesterday to Boucher.
“Sorry, but this lack of coverage so far strikes me as derelict. This is a huge tactical turn-tail that obviously indicates uncertainty and anxiety on WB’s part, and may even hint at a modified rollback as far as the extent of their commitment to 48 fps venues when The Hobbit opens in December. It looks like you’re all trying to go easy on Warner Bros. to save them embarassment.”
I wrote this an hour or two ago so maybe one of these publications will post something today but it sure seems strange that they ignored this story altogether.
Just so we’re clear, I’ve stated from the get-go last April that the mind-blowing 48 fps Hobbit footage indicates only that this new format can be (and will be, I feel) a huge shot in the arm for fantasy-action high-visual-impact popcorn films. There’s no need for it to be used on regular plot-driven, character-driven films that convey (or try to convey) anything in the way of intimate, emotional, cerebral, delicate, human-scale content. Serious cineastes were appalled at the high-def video look of 48 fps when it played at Cinemacon, and I got that. They weren’t wrong as far as it being wildly inappropriate for serious cinema.
That said, the 48 fps presentation at Cinemacon told me that digital technology can at least allow for a full industry-wide conversion for each and every film (including those by Todd Solondz) to 30 frames per second, which doesn’t, judging from the look of Fred Zinneman‘s Oklahoma! (’55), deliver a high-def video texture but does allow for much greater fluidity and smoothness of image with a noticable lessening of pan and motion blur. It’s cleaner, more engaging. There’s really no reason other than sentimentality to stay with 24 fps any longer, given this option.
Stop hiding. Man up, embrace the future, get on the horse and ride it.