This Friday, the long-awaited first installment of The Hobbit trilogy arrives in theaters. And while your journey to see this Lord of the Rings prequel may be an expected one, your trip to the cinema could still involve some unexpected confusion if you're not aware of all the different formats in which the film is being offered. Take a look at the Movies in Theaters page at Fandango and you'll notice there are six options through which to buy tickets for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Here are simple explanations of each for anyone who hasn't been paying attention:
2D - Just the movie, on a normal-size cinema screen, no glasses necessary nor the reported distraction of a non-traditional frame rate.
IMAX - Just the movie, on a larger than normal screen, no glasses necessary, and normal rate of 24 frames per second.
3D - Three-dimensional presentation of the movie, as it was shot, glasses needed, normal-size screen and normal frame rate.
IMAX 3D - Three-dimensional presentation, as it was shot, glasses needed, larger screen but normal frame rate.
HFR 3D - Three-dimensional presentation with enhanced frame rate of 48 per second, glasses and getting used to it required, normal-size screen.
HFR IMAX 3D - Ultimate presentation in three dimensions and enchanced frame rate and giant cinema screen, glasses and getting used to it and desire for feeling immersed required.
The difficulty in deciding will be dependent on what you're more interested in with this film. Do you just want to see the return of Middle-earth on the big screen, an epic adaptation of Tolkien's book, primarily for the story and characters and action without any gimmick? Or, are you mostly curious about the new format everyone's talking about, regardless of all the negative responses to it? Maybe you'll want to see it both ways, as I've heard it's great to see the thing in 2D just to passively enjoy the show and then later revisit the film in the high frame rate (HFR) format.
That last idea might only work, however, if you think you'll like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey enough to sit through the thing twice. Given that the film itself is receiving so-so reviews, that might be a gamble even if you're a fan of the LOTR trilogy. You should also take into consideration that it's nearly three hours long and that each enhancement will come with a surcharge (in my area, the price steps are in increments of about $3, though there doesn't appear to be extra for HFR in excess of normal 3D or IMAX fees).
Which format will you be seeing The Hobbit in?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
Join the next discussion on Twitter by following Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) and Movies.com (@Moviesdotcom).