High Frame Rate 3D Version of The Hobbit is Insanely Gorgeous

  • Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” shot in 48-frames-per-second HD, “looks nothing like you’ve ever seen before,” writes Wired. “In the 48-frames-per-second version… Middle-earth in 3D looks so crisp it’s like stepping into the foreground of an insanely gorgeous diorama.”
  • The movie will also be released December 14 in standard 24-frames-per-second, but the HFR 3D version allows for more precise images and smoother 3D action because it doubles the “visual data” and decreases blur during quick camera motions.
  • While the 48-frames-per-second approach is great for action sequences, Wired questions its effectiveness during naturalistic scenes. “The flicker, depth of field and imperfect ‘grain’ that lends character to 35-millimeter film historically fostered a collective dreamlike state for audiences who gathered in the dark to lose themselves in images that were never intended to exactly replicate the ‘real’ world.”
  • “In delivering the kind of high-def detail by which every wrinkle gets full attention, fast frame takes getting used to,” suggests the article. “At times, scenes unfold as if part of an extravagantly well-lit, art-directed reality-based series or soap opera.”
  • The 48-frames-per-second method combined with 3D almost makes the film seem something beyond real, suggests Wired, and definitely takes some adjustment for people used to watching standard film.

Mexican Revolution: Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas Coming to California

  • Mexico City-based Cinepolis, the world’s fourth-largest theater chain, has plans to extend luxury cinemas to Southern California.
  • The luxury chain has seen success in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, and has already “expanded to about 150 screens across Latin America,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
  • The company has invested $8 million in its Del Mar facility, “where patrons can kick back in a leather recliner and press a button to order teriyaki beef skewers, sushi rolls or a glass of Thomas Hyland Chardonnay.”
  • The all-digital theater features a lounge area with sofas, a full bar serving specialty drinks, and a cafe with coffee and desserts. Touch screen monitors in the lobby show upcoming movie trailers.
  • Tickets cost as much as $19.50, a hefty premium for this economy, but the concept may become an attractive alternative for consumers looking for a new experience.
  • Three theaters are planned for Carlsbad (under construction), Laguna Niguel and Rancho Santa Margarita, while deals are underway for additional locations in Westlake and Westwood.

Reel China: Hollywood Seeks Workarounds for Import Restrictions

  • Hollywood continues its frustration with the Chinese government’s limits on how many imported movies can play in its theaters in addition to how box office receipts are shared. Now, prominent American film producers are seeking change through ambitious deals that provide alternative routes into China’s market.
  • Success with the Chinese may prove crucial. With traditional distribution models such as DVD sales presently slumping, China could become a much-needed revenue source.
  • “It’s not about détente, it’s about making money,” suggests the Los Angeles Times. “The partnerships give the American firms better access to the country’s growing movie market.”
  • According to the LA Times report: “China’s box-office receipts surged 64 percent last year to a record $1.5 billion, and they will likely bring in about $2 billion in ticket sales this year. By the end of the decade, industry experts predict China will grow from the world’s No. 5 movie market to No. 1.”
  • Although lobbyists and the World Trade Organization have been unsuccessful in getting the Chinese to relax import restrictions, smaller American film companies such as Legendary and Relativity are partnering with Chinese-based companies in co-production and exhibition deals. Through the partnerships, companies are not subject to restrictions and find they can dramatically improve upon percentage of box office receipts.
  • Major Hollywood studios have not formed long-term partnerships to co-produce with Chinese firms, but have discovered other alternatives, such as making Mandarin-language productions in China and pushing digital product, including 3D: “To boost the rollout of high-tech projectors in the country’s theaters, China in 2007 began allowing several pictures per year into the country on a revenue-share basis if they played only in digital theaters.”
  • The ultimate goal is to eliminate the restrictions, but for the time being Hollywood is finding ways to work around them.

MoviePass Unlimited Admission Beta Hits a Roadblock

  • Last week ETCentric reported that a new service called MoviePass plans to offer unlimited movie viewing in participating theaters for a fee of $50/month. The initial beta was scheduled for the holiday weekend in San Francisco.
  • The planned beta test hit a roadblock when a number of San Francisco theaters decided not to participate since they did not consent to the admission price of the proposed model.
  • Interestingly, the theaters would still have been paid full admission.
  • From the AMC press release: “As MoviePass was created without AMC’s input and testing, we cannot confidently say the guest experience would be positive for our guests and specifically our AMC Stubs members.”

The Future of 3D Looks Bright, According to New Studies

It should come as no surprise to our audience that industry opinions regarding 3D entertainment are mixed. Despite technological advancements we’ve seen in recent years to gaming, theatrical film exhibition, television sets, production processes and a variety of consumer products — a number of significant questions continue to spark debate: Glasses or glasses-free? Active or passive? Standard feature or gimmick? Strong or slow consumer adoption? However, a number of recent studies agree on one thing — the near future of 3D will see some tremendous growth.

In a report released this week, digital entertainment market researcher In-Stat predicts global 3D TV shipments will be up nearly 500 percent this year, compared with 2010. The report also suggests that all televisions with screen sizes 40 inches and above will soon be 3D-enabled. The In-Stat forecast is joined by another report from NPD Group subsidiary DisplaySearch that suggests 3D TVs will account for approximately one-third of all 120 Hz LCD sets in 2011. DisplaySearch also explained that 3D TV penetration will expand as the 3D feature is added to more basic models in upcoming years. Researcher IHS iSuppli adds that 2012 will be another year of triple-digit growth for 3D TV shipments.

“In a major recalibration effort, television brands are changing strategies this year following lukewarm response to 3D in 2010 when consumers balked at the high price of sets and the lack of 3D content,” explained Riddhi Patel, director for television systems and retail services at IHS. “In 2011, however, brands are marketing 3D not as a must-have technology but as a desirable feature, similar to the approach they have taken with Internet connectivity.”

This week’s In-Stat report offers the following numbers:

  • Households with 3D TV sets will eclipse 300 million in 2015.
  • In 2011 Europe will boast the most 3D TV unit shipments at just over 7 million.
  • By 2015 Asia/Pacific will have the largest share of 3D TV unit shipments at 32 percent.

Additionally, an industry survey recently conducted by crew booking and payroll company Media Services indicates that 3D is becoming a “predominant mode of production” — as nearly half of respondents indicated their businesses will emphasize 3D film and television production in the next five years.

The question regarding consumer adoption may soon be impacted by increased production numbers and lower prices from manufacturers (and if the shipment predictions above prove accurate, it may not matter). As CNET reports, “NPD found that 45 percent of people who won’t buy a 3D TV cite price as the barrier and 42 percent say its the special 3D glasses. But as In-Stat’s study has found, consumers may not have much of a choice. Vendors are continuing to add 3D capability, especially to bigger-screen sets. And if folks want bigger screens, they will soon get 3D capability whether they seek it or not.”

Related Below the Line post: “Study Reveals Shift to 3D Over the Next Five Years” (5/17/11)

Related Advanced Television article: “3D TV shipments up 500% in 2011” (5/6/11)

Related TV Technology post: “RealD, Samsung Partner in 3DTV Display Project” (5/17/11)

Related Engadget post (and videos): “Intel will mass produce 3D transistors for all future CPUs, starting with 22nm Ivy Bridge” (5/4/11)

Related PCMag.com article: “3D Transistors, EUV, and the Future of Chipmaking: Why it Matters” (5/6/11)

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