The mega-epic pissing contest

Peter Jackson caused a bit of a stir by announcing that he would shoot his forthcoming “The Hobbit” at 48 frames per second. The film will be released in two parts, in December 2012 and December 2013, and he revealed recently that Part One will be two and a half hours long. One wonders how much of this burden the lovable little creatures can carry on their shoulders.

There is a kind of one-upmanship going on among the titans of the mega-uber-blockbusters, Jackson and James Cameron–who himself just announced that he plans to shoot “Avatar 2″ and the film’s third installment using digital equipment that delivers 60 frames per second. While admiring the LOTR trilogy and “Avatar,” which remains the state of the art in 3D, I believe their expanding ambitions come with risks.

The standard frame rate, for both digital and celluloid, is 24 fps. However, Stuart Kemp writes in the Hollywood Reporter: “There are nearly 4,000 screens in North America that have Barco Series 2 projectors with the required software update to play 48 fps, plus Sony expects the majority of its 13,000 installed 4K digital cinema projectors to support the high frame rates by the time ‘The Hobbit’ is released in December.”

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