Welly cinemas must upgrade for Hobbit

Wellywood may be the home of The Hobbit but Wellington cinemas are yet to make the technological shift so we can see it in its double-frame glory.

While cinemas said they planned to install technology necessary to watch the film in 48-frames-per-second(fps), none of those talked to by The Dominion Post had yet made the upgrade.

The first of the two-part films premieres in Wellington on November 28, followed by general release.

Even Miramar's Roxy Cinema  - refitted with the help of Oscar-winning big names Sir Peter Jackson, Sir Richard Taylor, and Jamie Selkirk - is yet to get the upgrade, though will have it in time for The Hobbit's general release.

Last year Jackson, who is directing The Hobbit, announced it was being shot at 48 frames per second, as opposed to the traditional 24fps. It would be the first wide-release feature film to make the move.

''The result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness,'' he said at the time.

Hollywood Reporter this week reported that the decision to go to 48fps had ''chins wagging'' as the year CineEurope conference in Barcelona, where cinemas and distributors were told the new format would cost them more.

The cost would be driven by upgrading projection systems, including the time they would have to shut for installation. Some of this cost could be passed on to movie goers.

European Digital Cinema Forum chief executive David Monk said: ''Movie costs will be higher.''

Roxy Cinema operations and film manager Daminda Dias said the Miramar cinema's new projectors could be updated to project at 48fps with the simple addition of a computer card. This would be done by the release date.

Reading New Zealand operations manager Mark Kendrick  said it was planned at least one screen in each of its nine nationwide cinemas, including Courtenay Central, would have the technology update by December.

''We are looking into it   just getting [the] technical information for it,'' he said.

Nobody in the chain yet knew how major the refit would be.

He hoped the cost would not be passed on to ticket buyers ''but I couldn't really say to be honest''.

Hoyts operations manager Matthew Garelli  said the chain hoped to have a screen in each of its 10 cinemas upgraded for 48fps. None had yet been completed.

He did not anticipate an extra cost for punters.

Paramount Cinema in Courtenay Pl and Penthouse Cinema in Brooklyn have no plans to upgrade.


Hobbit's new look defended

THE ROAD GOES EVER ON: Martin Freeman as Bilbo during shooting of The Hobbit.
THE ROAD GOES EVER ON: Martin Freeman as Bilbo during shooting of The Hobbit.

Hobbit premiere in Wellington

Inside the Hobbit

The Hobbit's rocky road

Contact Tom Hunt
Porirua reporter
Email: tom.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @tomdom76

The Dominion Post