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.
The 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: 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.
But 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.
The 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.