As scheduled, a 48 frame per second footage from Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was screened at the 2012 CinemaCon on Tuesday, April 24. Despite the nearly flawless high-definition technology displayed in it, the 10-minute preview apparently drew mixed reactions from the audience. Some of them remained pessimistic about the new technology used in the movie, though the others admitted to be impressed by the preview.
The clip itself opened with a New Zealand landscape which appears clearer than the images in most nature documentaries. Los Angeles Times described the scene as "hyper-realistic." The effect was changed when applied to scenes involving the actors, whose every move was crystal clear. Some attendees complained the footage "didn't feel enough like a traditional film."
A projectionist from a competitor studio pessimistically told L.A. Times after watching the much-talked-about footage, "It looked like a made-for-TV movie. It was too accurate - too clear." The projectionist added, "The contrast ratio isn't there yet - everything looked either too bright or black."
Peter Sciretta from Slah Film commented, "Saw ten minutes of 'Hobbit' in 48fps 3D. Very exciting, but I'm now very unsure about higher framerates. 48fps feature films will likely divide moviegoers - I expect to see stronger hate, more so than 3D."
Devin Faraci of Bad Ass Digest, meanwhile, wrote, "Here's what 'The Hobbit' looked to me: a hi-def version of the 1970s 'I, Claudius'. It is drenched in a TV like - specifically '70s-era BBC - video look. People on Twitter have asked if it has that soap opera look you get from badly calibrated TVs at Best Buy, and the answer is an emphatic YES."
On the other hand, some reviewers put a high hope on Jackson's movie after watching the hi-def footage. Variety's Josh Dickey tweeted, "Great Scott, THE HOBBIT in 48 frames-per-second is a thing to behold. Totally different experience. Not all will like the change." Steven Weintraub of Collider added, "Saw 10 min of THE HOBBIT in 48fps. It's def a drastic from 24fps and many are not going to be on board with it."
Jackson admitted he decided to screen the 10-minute footage "because it actually takes your eyes a little bit of time to get used to 48 frames." The acclaimed filmmaker explained, "It's not really showing you a sense of what those shots will look like in the finished film, but it's allowing you to judge the projection quality."
The "Lord of the Rings" helmer hoped that "The Hobbit" could inspire theater owners to upgrade their projection equipments. He said, "I'm really hoping with the support of the exhibitors, we can start the process of changing the entire industry to higher frame rates, which quite honestly provide a much more attractive experience, especially in 3D."
"The Hobbit" is scheduled to open wide in the U.S. on December 14. There have been some some speculations that the film's 48fps trailer will be unveiled as early as July.