Director Ang Lee shot his latest movie, Gemini Man, in 120fps 4K 3D. Lee is a big believer in High Frame Rate (HFR) believing it draws the audience deeper into the movie (he also shot his previous movie, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in HFR). However, Lee and the studio behind Gemini Man, Paramount, have failed to give the HFR the release it needs, so it just becomes a very limited vanity project for Lee.
Polygon reports that not a single theater in the country will show Gemini Man in 120fps 4K 3D. A Paramount rep tells Polygon that nearly all HFR 3D screenings will be in 60fps (higher than the standard 24fps, but half the speed at which the film was shot). There are only 14 theaters in the country showing the movie in 120fps, but it will be in 2K, not 4K. Those theaters are:
AMC Aventura Mall 24 – Miami, FL
AMC Century City 15 – Los Angeles, CA
AMC Del Amo 18 – Los Angeles, CA
AMC Disney Springs 24 – Orlando, FL
AMC Elmwood Palace 20 – New Orleans, LA
AMC Flatiron Crossing 14 – Denver, CO
AMC Hawthorn 12 – Chicago, IL
AMC Lincoln Square 13 – New York, NY
AMC Metreon 16 – San Francisco, CA
AMC North Point 12 – Atlanta, GA
AMC River East 21 – Chicago, IL
AMC Town Square 18 – Las Vegas, NV
AMC White Marsh 16 – Baltimore, MD
AMC Willowbrook 24 – Houston, TX
So why did Lee bother shooting it in 120fps 4K 3D? He tells Polygon, “felt like the necessary avenue to make ‘Junior,’ [Will] Smith’s digital avatar, a soulful character who could also appear to beat the living crap out of a real actor in the film’s many fight sequences. He also knew going in that the format would not be accessible for many viewers because of location, time, or the sour taste left by previous HFR screenings.” Lee continued:
“It’s fair. People will be intimated by 3D and more data and more details,” Lee said. “It can be scary and most people won’t try it. But it also [gave] us more material to work with. We had 40 times more data, which meant 40 times more chance of flopping or succeeding. You just have more to work with, and in 3D, it’s sharper. Because of that, it made me want to do this. You can’t put on makeup or erase wrinkles or have his son play him and call that a clone.”
What is this “people won’t try it?” If he means that audiences won’t try it, well, they don’t really have much of a choice when a movie is in only in 14 theaters nationwide. And if he means filmmakers won’t try it, you can’t really blame them if the closest thing to their vision only appears in 14 theaters nationwide.
I saw Gemini Man last night, and while I’ll have my full review up tomorrow, I’ll say right now that it is a really ugly-looking movie. The colors and lighting are consistently flat and washed out, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the movie was supposed to look better in 120fps. But Paramount thinks that HFR is such a gimmick and that Lee’s choice is so inessential that they didn’t even bother screening it in 60fps for critics in Atlanta (I’ve had people tell me Paramount also screened it in 24fps in Nashville and Montreal, which leads me to believe this is how it was screened everywhere other than New York and Los Angeles). That’s a major failure on the part of Lee and the studio to make a film in such a way that it won’t be seen the way it was intended. If there’s no infrastructure to support Lee’s “experiment” than it’s just vanity, and the audience experience is really an afterthought to his own tech obsession. If the studio backing Gemini Man doesn’t care enough about the film to screen it the way it was meant to be seen, then why should anyone bother?