"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has set one box office standard before it has even opened: for most different ways you can watch it on the big screen.
There are six different viewing options available to “Hobbit” fans: standard format, 3D, Imax, 3D Imax, high-frame-rate 3D and high-frame-rate Imax 3D.
That's way beyond grande, tall and vente.
“It’s a record for us,” Harry Medved, a spokesman for online ticket seller Fandango, told TheWrap. “We’ve never had so many viewing options on a single film before.”
Much has been made of the ground-breaking and controversial 48 frame-per-second film rate technology that Peter Jackson utilized for his latest Middle Earth epic. But when Warner Bros. unveils its final “Hobbit” screen count on Wednesday, it’s expected that only 450-500 of more than 4,000 theaters will offer the new technology.
Anecdotal reviews of the new 48fps format -- used in lieu of the standard 24 frames-per-second format -- have been mixed at best. While some have compared its improved clarity to the advent of high-definition TV, many screening viewers have complained that there’s too much detail, and that the ultra-sharp focus is confusing and jarring. While some see the images as more life-like than anything before, others say they look like daytime TV shows and unreal.
There’s no surcharge for the new technology per se, but since it’s only available in 3D and Imax versions, those seeing it in the new format will already be paying a premium. And with the theaters delineating which format will be used, most moviegoers who do attend the 48fps screenings will have made the choice to do so.
The results of a new Fandango survey should be encouraging to Jackson, who said in a Facebook post that he believes the 48fps is the future of cinema.
Sixty-one percent of the more than 2,000 respondents -- all "Hobbit" ticket-buyers -- said that the new format made them more curious to see the film. Seventy-two percent said that they were glad to see the project spanning three installments.
And if you're planning a fan boy holiday party, you might not want to invite the "Twihard" crowd. While 73 percent of the "Hobbit' tickets buyers said they were also fans of the "Harry Potter" franchise, just 27 percent considered themselves fans of the "Twilight" franchise.