Warner Bros. CinemaCon 2012 Recap Including DARK KNIGHT RISES, THE HOBBIT in 48fps, THE CAMPAIGN, THE GREAT GATSBY in 3D

     April 24, 2012


When Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov took the stage at CinemaCon today, the big debate was over what footage he would showcase.  While rumors were flying that he’d show ten minutes of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in 48fps, and that Christopher Nolan would show something from The Dark Knight Rises, no one was sure of anything.  But when he stepped off the stage after the presentation had ended, he had shown clips from some of the biggest films of 2012 and he also made history by world premiering the rumored Hobbit footage.

During the presentation we saw footage from Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, Jay Roach’s The Campaign, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby in 3D, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages, and it ended with 10 minutes of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in 48fps.  Hit the jump for more:

As I’ve been doing all week, right after the presentation ended I recorded a video blog with Peter from Slashfilm and Alex from FirstShowing.  We spent a lot of time talking about The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit, but we also covered a few of the other films.  Here’s the video followed by some quick thoughts on the footage.  Look for more video blogs tonight and all week.

christian-bale-the-dark-knight-rises-imageThe Dark Knight Rises: Christopher Nolan showed a five minute sizzle reel featuring a number of shots that have never been seen.  We saw “The Bat” in action and it looks phenomenal.  We also saw Batman standing on the top of a building that must have been shot in IMAX that was breathtaking.  In addition, plenty of shots of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard and Tom Hardy as Bane.  Other new shots showed the action of the streets of Gotham, plenty of explosions, the Bat Cave, Bruce Wayne with a cane, and so much more.  The interesting thing about the shots was the lack of dialogue, showing that even though Nolan loves the theater owners, he’s still trying to keep as much as possible under wraps.

However, the most important thing I want to emphasize is the new and improved Bane audio.  During the beginning of the footage we saw some moments from the seven minute IMAX prologue that had previously been released.  The muffled sound of Bane has been absolutely cleaned up so you can now hear him like he’s standing next to you.  While I don’t know if this was just done for the CinemaCon sizzle reel, everyone was talking about it afterwards and saying how great it sounded.  I personally think this is the new way Bane will sound.

the-hobbit-movie-image-bilbo-food-01The Hobbit: While I was one of the people incredibly excited to see Peter Jackson make a movie in 48fps, I’ll admit the footage is such a radical change from what I expected, it’s going to polarize audiences.   The first thing to know is that the actual Hobbit footage looks brilliant.  The ten minutes that Jackson showed us featured Bilbo and Gollum getting ready to play a riddle game, plenty of Gandalf, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, the Dwarves and the group walking across mountaintops, plenty of action, and many other returning faces.  Also, the 3D looked great and the new 48fps drastically reduces eye strain.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is the 48fps is so jarring that I’m not sure casual moviegoers will enjoy it.  While I figured the image quality would improve at 48fps, it’s like looking at real life on a movie screen and not in a good way.  You no longer have motion blur.  You no longer can hide stuff in the darkness.  While watching Bilbo fight the trolls (which looked great), it looked like nothing I’ve ever seen projected on a movie screen.  Granted the visual effects weren’t done and the lighting wasn’t finalized, but it was such a change that by the end of the presentation, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch the entire movie in this new 48fps format.  This is definitely not what I expected to say.

Ultimately, it just didn’t look cinematic and it sort of looked like HD TV.  Perhaps shooting at 48fps and then projecting at 24fps will solve my issues.  Who knows.

johnny-depp-michelle-pfeiffer-dark-shadowsBut here’s the one takeaway that we mustn’t forget: this is the dawn of a new technology.  In a few years, when the filmmakers and post-production supervisors learn how to master this new 48fps, I believe this new way of projecting movies might make serious inroads and possibly become the norm.

But it’s also possible audiences will rebel against this new way of projecting as they did with Smell-O-Vision in the 50′s.  For more of my thoughts, watch the video blog above.

Dark Shadows: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp introduced the footage and showed a great looking sizzle reel.  While I might be in the minority, I love the way the film looks and each bit of footage gets me more excited to see the finished film.  Also, I really feel like Burton and Depp are really trying to make this film work as they’re both huge fans of the source material and it shows.

will-ferrell-zach-galifianakis-the-campaign-imageThe Campaign: Starring Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis as two battling politicians, the comedy looked really funny and they showed us what appeared to be an extended trailer.  The end of the footage featured Ferrell punching a baby by accident. If you think a baby getting punched is funny, you’re going to like this movie.

Rock of Ages: Another sizzle reel and another WB movie I’m looking forward to.  The cast looked like they were having a blast and Tom Cruise as the world’s biggest rock star looks fun.  Also, I love the hair metal soundtrack.

The Great Gatsby: Baz Luhrmann introduced the footage via taped message and he said all the footage we were about to see was completely untouched.  If you’re not aware, The Great Gatsby was filmed in 3D and while I was one that wondered what the point of a 3D Gatsby was, the footage sold me that it was the right way to go.  Rather than try and change his distinctive style to 3D, he brought 3D to his world much like Scorsese did with Hugo.  While we saw unfinished footage from the beginning, middle and the finale of the movie, what we were shown looked great and I now understand why WB greenlit the movie.

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  • Kim

    Nolan does it again… this is the movie event of 2012.

  • mattn

    Its seems clear to me that the fact that 48fps is so polarizing and jarring to see, means that it will be the future of cinema. We see this all throughout history examples of revolutionary changes being greeted with confusion. This strikes me as being one of them.

    • dogg

      It’s always bothered me how sluggish 24 fps is, and amazed me that people are willing to put up with their million dollar scenic panning shots stuttering like something out of the ’20s. Panning shots are where it’s most noticeable, and it’s the kind of thing that once you point it out to someone, they can’t unsee it.
      They will have to figure out those technical issues, though. If it screws up motion blur, it’ll never catch on.

      • Craig

        it doesn’t “screw up” motion blur. It removes it. Motion Blur is caused by the brain filling in gaps of missing frames during periods of fast motion. at 48 or 60 fps the brain doesn’t need to fill gaps. I agree with you about panning and landscape shots. Which is why I’m the most excited to see the Hobbit. The scenic beauty of New Zealand will be breathtaking in this format.

  • Caleb The Awesome

    Thanks for the update Steve! Best news I’ve heard in a long time about the Dark Knight Rises.

  • mee

    YESSSS, i’m so glad he changed the audio. i know nolan likes to challenge the audience… but making one of you’re characters inaudible is not the way to do it. so excited to hear baneeee

  • AManWithAKilt

    Call me crazy but watching this video actually makes me more excited to see The Hobbit in 48fps. Not convinced it will look great, but definitely going to make sure I see it at least once in a 48fps theatre.

  • Bill

    48fps is a fucking stupid move made by idiotic techhead filmmakers who have forgotten what it’s like to just tell a story. Peter Jackson & James Cameron stopped being true storytellers ages ago.

    Film is not meant to be real. Film is a lyrical painterly way of capturing movement. 24fps is the way film should work. Once you get up to 48fps you start robbing cinema of what makes it cinema.

    Stop sucking up to these Egotistical techheads who just want to say “We broke new technological barriers” instead of “Why we should do this”

    • FeederJones

      You got some sand in your vagina?

  • AlexHeyNa

    I am now incredibly anxious to see the 48fps projection of The Hobbit. I can’t imagine it being that drastically different, but your constant insisting that it is has me beyond curious.

  • SP1234

    Can someone explain the 48fps thing cause I seriously don’t understand it.

    • Norm

      I’m sure someone can give a much better explanation, but basically it means the video is running at more frames per second than your standard movie. It makes everything look… smoother I suppose, almost like it’s moving a bit faster. If you play video games you can see the difference by comparing one of the Call of Duty games (which run at 60 FPS) to say Gears of War or Uncharted (which run at 24 or 30 FPS). Or compare a movie in your DVD collection to home video footage, if you can.

  • bjemmi

    Im in total agreement with what was said on the video, this is the future of cinema and people just need to adjust

  • Norm

    I guess it’ll be interesting to see it just for the experience, but I’m really not optimistic about the whole 48fps thing. It’s not like it’s jarring because I’m not accustomed to it, I just don’t like the way it looks. Maybe it is the future though, I dunno, Best Buy seems to think so because they run nearly all of their demo TVs with that “smoothing mode” on.

    Plus it’s not like 48fps is anything special. There was a movie that ran entirely at 500 fps, it was called “300″. Ha…. Zack Snyder humor.

  • Raoni Dantas

    “48fps, it’s like looking at real life on a movie screen”

    BUT Who would not want to see a fantasy film full of visual effects with REALISM? fews! lol I want to see in 48 fps!

  • Raoni Dantas

    “I’m not sure casual moviegoers will enjoy it.”

    So they should go back to 20′s years. :D

  • jimmy3vil

    RE: 48fps, I really think this is going to be a “first-time comprehension” problem, and the more people experience it, the more they’ll get used to it. I imagine that first experience will be something akin to experiencing motion interpolation on HDTVs (Motion Plus, MotionFlow, Intelligent Frame Creation, etc) for the first time, something we’ve mostly all experienced and become accustomed to. Different does not equal bad – but it can be difficult to adjust, especially in a three-hour window while trying to experience a film you just dropped 25 bucks on and have been waiting 10 years to see!

    • Georgs Mucas

      i cannot and will not adjust to Motionflow on HDTV’s. that stuff is garbage, anyone who leaves it on once they get the TV home must not know how to turn it off. either that or they enjoy the feeling of watching Law and Order SVU on LSD

  • Guy

    48 frames played at 24 will still look a little weird for a fantasy movie. It still won’t have motion blur, the image will be sharp, choppy and look like high shutter speed movies like saving private ryan.

    • jabba359

      It depends on the shutter angle they used. Normal 24fps film typically uses a 180 degree shutter, giving you an exposure of 1/48 second per frame. Since this was shot on the RED Epic, you can run a 360 degree shutter, which at 48fps would also give you an exposure of 1/48 second per frame. I haven’t read what shutter angle they ran at, so they may not have set it to 360 degrees, but I’m just saying that if they wanted to play it safe and give themselves the option of returning to 24fps with the normal look everyone is used to, then they did at least have that option.

  • Vinyard

    Keep in mind, the comments about 48 frames per second projection absolutely sound like comments made by “critics” when sound and then color hit the film landscape.
    Regardless of your being for or against it, those comments could have been cut and pasted from articles posted by critics when sound and film made their respective debuts.
    And who cares what geeks think…? Most of you sat on these boards complaining about ‘Avatar’ (its CGI/3-D) and look how that turned out in reality (box office and consumption/adoration by the proletariat.)
    And I’m keeping my opinion(s) mum. Just some food for thought.

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  • Ben

    “If you think a baby getting punched is funny, you’re going to like this movie.”

    hahahhaa! That should make the reviews on the DVD cover!

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  • ipolos

    its just like 120hz and 240hz in HDTVs. get used to it at home before watching the hobbit :)

  • Anarquia

    lack of dialogue in a Nolan movie? maybe he learn what is cinema about…

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  • ISI

    Did you just compare 48p’s to smell o vision?
    *shakes head in shame*

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  • FeederJones

    Anyone knows where u can watch this footage?

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