Entertainment

Peter Jackson defends Hobbit film format

Director Peter Jackson has defended his choice of a new film format for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in the face of criticism over a 10-minute preview he released last week.
Martin Freeman portrays Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. (James Fisher/New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers)

Director Peter Jackson has defended his choice of a new film format for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in the face of criticism over a 10-minute preview he released last week.

Jackson is shooting the J.R.R. Tolkien story at 48 frames per second rather than the standard 24 frames, because he claims it will improve the film’s 3D imagery and better immerse audiences in the action.

Theatre owners and media who saw the preview at CinemaCon last week were critical of the choice, as were fans, some of whom said the images were poor in quality and looked like a made-for-TV movie.

"It wasn't particularly surprising because it is something new," Jackson told the Hollywood Reporter. But he said he expects the new technology will ultimately enhance the cinematic experience for viewers.

"It does take you a while to get used to," Jackson said. "Ten minutes is sort of marginal; it probably needed a little bit more.

"Another thing that I think is a factor is it's different to look at a bunch of clips — and some were fast-cutting, montage-style clips. This is a different experience than watching a character and story unfold."

Jackson told Entertainment Weekly he believes it will take time for people to settle into the new look, and that the format should be judged by the reception to the entire film, due out later this year.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first chapter in Jackson's two-part adaptation of the fantasy novel and was shot back-to-back in 3D, with the second part, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, due in December.

Jackson, who won an Oscar for Lord of the Rings, acknowledged the new technology needs to be refined, but said it was an important "creative tool."

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