By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

WARNER BROS. PICTURES UNVEILS NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN FOOTAGE OF “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY” SHOWCASING STUNNING HIGH-FRAME-RATE RESULTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BURBANK, CA, April 24, 2012 — Warner Bros. Pictures screened approximately 10 minutes of never-before-seen footage from New Line Cinema and MGM’s upcoming epic “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which showcased the filmmaking innovation of 48 frames-per-second (fps), doubling the typical frame rate of 24 fps.  The footage was part of the studio’s presentation at CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

The film, slated for worldwide release beginning December 14, 2012, is the first major motion picture to be made using this state-of-the art high-frame-rate technology.

The footage was introduced via a taped greeting from director Peter Jackson, who gave a bit of history as to how 24 fps became the industry standard and why today’s technology allows for higher frame rates. He also explained that 48 fps is actually closer to the way the human eye views the world.  Jackson offered, “As a filmmaker, I always want to create a strong sense of reality, to allow the audience to lose themselves in whatever the cinematic story is that I’m presenting.  Shooting and projecting at 48 fps gives you the illusion that a hole has been cut in the wall of the cinema, and you’re watching the story unfold with a heightened sense of reality.  It’s terrific for 3D; I’ve looked at the 48 fps dailies for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ in 3D for over a year now, and with the reduction in strobing and flicker, it is a much more gentle experience on your eyes.  48 fps is not just limited to 3D.  A film shot in 48 fps looks fantastic when projected in 2D, and converts well to 24 fps as well.”

Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. Pictures President, Domestic Distribution, stated, “24 fps has been the standard in our industry for the last 80 years, so this is an exciting breakthrough.  It’s no surprise that Peter Jackson, with his commitment to innovation, is the first director to utilize 48 fps on a grand scale.  It’s equally gratifying to me to see the exhibition community embrace this advancement.”

Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, Warner Bros. Pictures President, International Distribution, added, “We’re thrilled to be arm-in-arm with Peter Jackson and the exhibition community in exploring the possibilities of high-frame-rate filmmaking.  The powerful combination of enduring storytelling and spectacular visuals will offer an exciting new movie-going experience to audiences around the world.”

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first of two films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.  Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield.  Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey and Martin Freeman stars in the central role of Bilbo Baggins.  The ensemble cast also includes (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, John Bell, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Ian Holm, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Andy Serkis, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, Aidan Turner, Hugo Weaving and Elijah Wood.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is directed by Peter Jackson from a screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Jackson.  Jackson is also producing the film, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham.  The executive producers are Alan Horn, Ken Kamins, Toby Emmerich and Zane Weiner, with Boyens serving as co-producer.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is a production of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production.  Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories, as well as all international television licensing being handled by MGM.  “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will be released on December 14, 2012, and the second film, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” opens on December 13, 2013.  Both films will be released in 3D and 2D in select theatres and IMAX. www.thehobbit.com

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“When Bay keeps these absurd plot-gears spinning, he’s displaying his skill as a slick, professional entertainer. But then there are the images of motion—I hesitate to say, of things in motion, because it’s not clear how many things there are in the movie, instead of mere digital simulations of things. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that there’s a car chase through London, seen from the level of tires, that could have gone on for an hour, um, tirelessly. What matters is that the defenestrated Cade saves himself by leaping from drone to drone in midair like a frog skipping among lotus pads; that he and Vivian slide along the colossal, polished expanses of sharply tilting age-old fields of metal like luge Olympians. What matters is that, when this heroic duo find themselves thrust out into the void of inner space from a collapsing planet, it has a terrifyingly vast emptiness that Bay doesn’t dare hold for more than an instant lest he become the nightmare-master. What matters is that the enormous thing hurtling toward Earth is composed in a fanatical detail that would repay slow-motion viewing with near-geological patience. Bay has an authentic sense of the gigantic; beside the playful enormity of his Transformerized universe, the ostensibly heroic dimensions of Ridley Scott’s and Christopher Nolan’s massive visions seem like petulant vanities.”
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How do you see film evolving in this age of Netflix?

I thought the swing would be quicker and more violent. There have been two landmark moments in the history of French film. First in 1946, with the creation of the CNC under the aegis of Malraux. He saved French cinema by establishing the advance on receipts and support fund mechanisms. We’re all children of this political invention. Americans think that the State gives money to French films, but they’re wrong. Through this system, films fund themselves!

The other great turning point came by the hand of Jack Lang in the 1980s, after the creation of Canal+. While television was getting ready to become the nemesis of film, he created the decoder, and a specific broadcasting space between film and television, using new investments for film. That once again saved French film.

These political decisions are important. We’re once again facing big change. If our political masters don’t take control of the situation and new stakeholders like Netflix, Google and Amazon, we’re headed for disaster. We need to create obligations for Internet service providers. They can’t always be against film. They used to allow piracy, but now that they’ve become producers themselves, they’re starting to see things in a different light. This is a moment of transition, a strong political act needs to be put forward. And it can’t just be at national level, it has to happen at European level.

Filmmaker Cédric Klapisch