Peter Jackson's been making a big deal of the fact that he shot The Hobbit films at 48 frames per second instead of the traditional 24, claiming that by getting rid of the flickering effect we associate with film, the doubled frame rate "looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3D." But a while back, when a few minutes of the film were projected at a high frame rate (HFR), the reaction was... hmm. How to put this? TERRIBLE. Apparently, what Jackson sees as "much more lifelike," everybody else sees as "like a cheap sitcom." A representative review, from Badass Digest's Devin Faraci:
It is drenched in a TV-like—specifically '70s era BBC—video look. People on Twitter have asked if it has that soap opera look you get from badly calibrated TVs at Best Buy, and the answer is an emphatic YES.
The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets. I've been on sets of movies on the scale of The Hobbit, and sets don't even look like sets when you're on them live... but these looked like sets.
The other comparison I kept coming to, as I was watching the footage, was that it all looked like behind-the-scenes video. The magical illusion of cinema is stripped away completely. (Via.)
After the wave of bad publicity that followed that screening, Warner Bros.—while still insisting HFR was "the most important change in exhibition, probably since the introduction of sound"—significantly downgraded their plans to release the film in HFR. A few theaters are still getting the film as Jackson wants it to be seen, though, and Regal just came out with a list—which includes the Regal Bridgeport Village in Tigard.
I'm guessing Warner Bros. won't screen The Hobbit in HFR for critics—I doubt they want to risk having a bunch of reviews that point out how cheap their super-expensive movie looks. I'm also guessing theater chains like Regal will charge more for their HFR screenings, because the few people who will know/care what HFR is are also the ones willing to pay a premium in order to complain about it. And I'm guessing this won't be the last you'll hear about any of this: James Cameron, because he is James Cameron, is planning to shoot his Avatar sequels at 60 FPS.