The Conversation: Reactions to 'The Hobbit' in 48fps, 'The Dark Knight Rises,' 'The Great Gatsby' and More CinemaCon Presentations

The Conversation: Reactions to 'The Hobbit' in 48fps, 'The Dark Knight Rises,' 'The Great Gatsby' and More CinemaCon Presentations

Apr 24, 2012

Many bloggers and entertainment journalists are hanging out in Las Vegas this week for CinemaCon, the annual convention for the National Association of Theatre Owners. It used to just be a trade show for the hyping of new technology, equipment and, most significantly, Hollywood movies. It's where movie theater people would get excited about the product they'd be selling later in the year. 

Now of course it's turning into another place to spark Internet buzz, and this is precisely what is happening with those reporting from the floor of Caesar's Palace. Surprisingly, it's not all positive either, with Paramount's presentation getting generally negative marks, though there's been positive responses to the full on screening of The Dictator. Most shocking is the disappointment with the 10 minutes shown of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, not the content but the game-changer-wannabe experience of projecting at 48 frames per second. It's the new 3D as far as being a debatable advance in exhibition. I admit, I fear it. "An Unexpected Journey" indeed!

Expect some official response to the backlash on that soon. Meanwhile, the backlash on The Dark Knight Rises footage from last year is gone for now thanks to an apparent cleanup of Bane's vocal audio issue. So don't worry, kids, because the latest word on the final Christopher Nolan Batman installment is way up. Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby and Rise of the Guardians were also given some extra boosts. 


What are people saying about the CinemaCon showcases so far? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet:


The Hobbit and 48fps

The preview began with the same scenes that opened last December’s trailer, and I will admit it was strange seeing the footage with such markedly different presentation. After a while there was some adjustment in the way that my brain was processing what it was seeing, but at the same time the effect never really wore off. What impressed me about the frame rate change was the sharpness and quality of the image that Jackson spoke of. The video was peppered with some of director’s trademark sweeping, epic shots and just the clarity of the scenes was mindblowing as you could pick up on every little rock formation on the side of the mountains and each little wave in the water. The 3D was also beyond impressive and, most importantly, surprisingly bright. Even scenes that took place in the dark – such as Bilbo and Gollum in the cave – weren’t adversely affected by the fact that I was basically wearing sunglasses indoors. - Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

I felt astonished and amazed...the term is WOWED...and yet a bit uncertain about the 48 fps 3D footage from Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit." The fact is that 48 fps 3D is the most startlingly "real" 3D I've ever seen in my life. The downside for older types is that it's too real. In a word, 48 fps 3D looks like high-def video. It doesn't look "cinematic", lacking that filtered or gauzy look we're all accustomed to. And yet it's breathtaking, especially w/ action scenes and CG stuff. Younger auds will cream in their pants. Older viewers not so much. Our sense of cnema as we know it changed radically today. Henceforth 48 fps will not just become the norm but we're going to hear calls for up-rezzing classic 24 fps films to 48 fps. Douglas Trumbull has done this. 48 fps kills that classic filtered, strobing effect.  - Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere, @wellshwood

Here's what The Hobbit looked like 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. The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets. I've been on sets of movies on the scale of The Hobbit, and sets don't even look like sets when you're on them live... but these looked like sets. The other comparison I kept coming to, as I was watching the footage, was that it all looked like behind the scenes video. The magical illusion of cinema is stripped away completely. - Devin Faraci, Badass Digest

The richness of Jackson’s imagery was lost because the 48 frames made each scene too crisp, if that's possible. It looked more real, in fact -- too real. Instead of an immersive cinematic experience, Middle Earth looked like it was captured as part of a filmed stage play. [...] As for the footage itself, Jackson screened shots of epic battles, confrontations with trolls and a chilling sequence with Gollum that showed that he still has a knack for finding the narrative heart in J.R.R. Tolkein’s dense mythological landscape. If only it looked a little more like a movie. - Brent Lang, The Wrap

I have major reservations, but at the same time am beyond awed at many elements of what hit my visual cortex. Recalling the sweeping landscape shots they opened with now, I almost feel tears welling, and I can’t explain why. It was overwhelming in the most literal sense. [...] The scene that really allowed me to relax and get used to it was the scene with Bilbo and Gollum in the cave, the longest segment they showed us. If there had been more contiguous sequences like that, cut together like a full scene (albeit with unfinished color grading and effects), I think the response might have been very different in that room today. The enemy of a radically new presentation like 48fps is the sizzle reel format of cutting. People needed to be given the benefit of their patience not being tried by rapid cutting back and forth from non-contiguous scenes. - Moisés Chiullan "Monty Cristo," Ain't It Cool News

Intriguing, the footage looks amazing, but the 48FPS experience is an odd change. Something needs to be done to prevent that weird feeling. It's odd at first. It looks beautiful, it feels more 'real life', looks sharper, but movements feel sped-up/weird almost. Unique, but very odd. There are going to be endless debates about 48FPS and how good/bad it looks. I just think we need to get used to change after 80yr of 24FPS. - Alex Billington, @firstshowing

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 - Peter Sciretta, @slashfilm

It was making me dizzy in certain scenes. Not sure I could handle 2 hrs or more of that. - Kimberly Houston, @k_houston86

Great Scott, THE HOBBIT in 48 frames-per-second is a thing to behold. Totally different experience. Not all will like the change. 48 fps has an immediacy that is almost jarring. And lighting it just right will be a learning process, as 3D was and still is. 48 fps also, unfortunately, looks a bit like television. But it does bring 3D to a different level. - Josh Dickey, @Variety_JLD

It's def a drastic change from 24fps and many are not going to be on board with it. 48fps makes it look like you're almost watching real life & not a movie. It's a massive change. Positive is the 3d has much less eye strain. The footage featured some amazing stuff. Saw Orlando Bloom as Legolas. Bilbo challenging Gollum to a riddle game. And so much more. - Steven Weintraub, @colliderfrosty

Like watching live television in the best possible manner. - Erik Childress, @EriktheMovieman

I suspect 48fps to be the "Bane's voice" issue of CinemaCon. Not convinced. Yes, it looks "real" but also like a live TV production or video. It's Middle-earth not reality. Pulled me out of it. Feels almost video game-like. Just not like watching LOTR - Jim Vejvoda, @StaxIGN


The Dark Knight Rises

Just saw ~5 mins of TDKR footage at CinemaCon. OMFG! Avengers, you got nothing on this. Perhaps even top TDK in incomprehensible ways until we see it. Bring it, Nolan! Looks like the movie of my life, truly the epic conclusion to this series we've been waiting for. A LOT. Of AMAZING shots, holy shit. Breathtaking footage. Honestly, Carey and Tobey seemed like perfect casting.Warner Bros had a fantastic, poignant presentation at CinemaCon. All the footage impressed. But TDKR... nothing/no one can top Nolan!!  - Alex Billington, @firstshowing

The epic extended trailer that WB showed at CinemaCon today is going to knock people on their asses with anticipation. - Erik Childress, @EriktheMovieman

TDKR footage rocked. Man, they really are playing up the finality of this chapter. Even the dialogue chosen was cryptic. - Jim Vejvoda, @StaxIGN

Explosive and awesome. - Peter Sciretta, @slashfilm

Also of note: Bane's voice has been seriously amplified and clarified, and I don't care what anyone says. - Josh Dickey, @Variety_JLD

The footage began with an excerpt from the prologue that arrived in theaters in December, featuring Bane (Tom Hardy) taking down a CIA plane, and I have some terrific news: I understood every word that Bane said. It should be noted that the theater I was in featured some of the most advanced technology in the projection industry, so I don’t know if they changed the audio or if it was just the presentation, but it did raise my confidence in that aspect of the film. [...] At the end of the footage I was left breathless.  - Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

As awesome as you'd expect. Saw footage of "The Bat" in action. IMAX stuff looks sick. Nolan is amazing. Bane's voice sounded clean and clear! They def fixed the audio mix. Should also mention the only bane stuff we heard was from prologue and maybe it was just a CinemaCon sound mix but it sounded fantastic. - Steven Weintraub, @colliderfrosty

After today's footage I'm confident with Hathaway as Catwoman. Bane's voice was great and understood everything he said. Fanboys, relax. - Kimberly Houston, @k_houston86


The Great Gatsby

WOW. Baz has made a beautiful, 3D drama, really enhances the experience. Whoa. - Alex Billington, @firstshowing

It really makes the book come alive, but in a re- imagined sense. - Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere, @wellshwood

Even unfinished many of the scenes were stunningly gorgeous; Gatsby's lavish and crazy parties verge on cartoonish visions of the 1920s as brought to us by the most extreme popular entertainments of the time. Luhrmann uses the 3D to perfectly isolate characters in enormous sets. And he's not afraid of throwing fistsful of confetti right at the camera. [...] Whatever else The Great Gatsby offers, it will have one of the most gorgeous images I have seen on a screen this year - Gatsby in a coffin, surrounded by flowers, at the bottom of a spiral staircase. The camera pulls up, revealing the spiral and the form of Nick sprawled on the steps above his friend. It's an astonishing moment. - Devin Faraci, Badass Digest

Paramount/The Dictator

Paramount's CinemaCon presentation this year was total disorganized blandness. Rise of the Guardians and G.I. Joe only interesting footage. - Alex Billington, @firstshowing

Kind of a mess, ran long. Some promising stuff, some likely horrible stuff. One Shot footage got me excited. Rise Of The Guardians footage looked extremely promising. Not so hot on Madagascar 3 or Dictator.  - Peter Sciretta, @slashfilm

Rise of the Guardians is officially on my must-see list for 2012. Saw 15 mins of it tonight and it looks fantastic!!  - Kimberly Houston, @k_houston86

Baron Cohen came in character & killed it. And THE DICTATOR got some real laughs. GI JOE is The Rock's movie, make no mistake. He was in every frame. Describes self as "franchise Viagra," and he totally is. MADAGASCAR 3 ain't reinventing the wheel; GUARDIANS, meanwhile, showed a chase scene to rival TINTIN's tracking shot. - Josh Dickey, @Variety_JLD

Surprise of the night was the ONE SHOT footage starring Tom Cruise. They showed 3 scenes. One was a '70s style car chase that looked great. - Steven Weintraub, @colliderfrosty

High point of Paramount presentation was Sacha Baron Cohen's stand-up routine lambasting Disney and Rich Ross, Jeffrey Katzenberg...and The Dictator plays well, funny well-written w/ edge. Colbert meets The Mouse That Roared. Better than Bruno. - Anne Thompson, @akstanwyck

The film works -- it's frequently funny and fast-moving and inventive. And it's not just another Borat-Bruno here-we-go-again yaddah yaddah, which I had feared it might be [...] it has actual political content and a great political third-act speech that for some reason reminded me of a payoff moment in a Preston Sturges film (like Hail the Conquering Hero, perhaps).  - Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere

The film moves fast, with so many jokes per minute that even if only half of them work for you, that's a pretty tremendous number of laughs.  I'm going to write a full review soon, but for now, I'll say that I liked it quite a bit, and I think it's smart that Cohen made a shift away from fake documentary with this one.  Both "Borat" and "Bruno" were about him playing these outrageous characters and trying to convince people that they were real, but this time, there's no pretense towards reality.  It is absurd from start to finish, and Cohen doesn't hold anything back. - Drew McWeeny, HitFix

Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.

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