Variety‘s Ramin Setoodeh and Brent Lang are reporting that Ang Lee, dirctor of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and Sony Pictures honcho Tom Rothman “clashed regularly during filming and in post-production, according to insiders, on the roller-coaster production with a $40 million pricetag,” primarily over “Lee’s decision to shoot the Iraq war picture in 120 frames-per-second, a new record for a big-screen feature.”
The bottom line is that Rothman didn’t think the bulk of the HFR photography was transporting enough to justify the cost of enabling dozens of theatres to project Billy Lynn at 120 fps, and so “only five locations around the world will be showing Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in the way Lee wants it to be seen: 120 frames-per-second, 4K resolution and in 3D.”
Five theatres worldwide are showing the full whambam? That’s all?
Here’s the real eye-opener: “Market research indicated that audiences gave higher scores to Billy Lynn at the regular 24 frames-per-second, which is how the movie will play at 800 or so theaters when it expands on 11.18 after opening this Friday on 11.11. Setoodeh and Lang report that “other high-frame-rate screens could be added later on.”
Variety‘s conclusion: “When it was greenlit, the hope was that Billy Lynn would be a major awards contender, like Life of Pi which went on to gross more than $500 million. (Rothman and Lee also battled on that project, but the end result was a beloved blockbuster that picked up 11 Oscar nominations.) Instead, Billy Lynn finds itself saddled with mediocre reviews out of the New York Film Festival last month and moribund tracking. The film is expected to debut with less than $10 million, a disappointment given its star-studded cast that includes Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin, Garrett Hedlund and Chris Tucker.”