Gremlins thwart Hobbit's high-frame rate launch

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 13:00 13/12/2012

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State Cinema's much-anticipated launch of The Hobbit was thwarted by Murphy's Law, with the Nelson theatre's brand new projector crippled by a fault.

Movie-goers turned up at midnight on Tuesday to experience the film's much-publicised high-frame rate, only to discover the cinema's new projector was out of action.

The cinema has just completed a half-a-million-dollar refurbishment, with cinema one stripped back to its shell and fitted with stadium seating, a bigger screen with the highest screen definition available in the world, improved sound and seating with more leg room.

Cinema director Mark Christensen said when staff went to fire up the new projector on Tuesday morning, ahead of the day's Skyfall screenings, a "rather innocuous" error message came up.

It turned out to be a major fault with the brand-new projector's light engine, which was like the "heart" of the machine, and it was "not just a matter of rebooting it".

Mr Christensen said the projector from Japan was being replaced by another one under warranty, and the problem was not related to its high-frame rate capability.

"Murphy is at play. It was completely out of the blue.

"We've had it for three months, operating with no problems at all. It's just one of those things."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opened at State Cinema with two sold-out midnight matinees on Tuesday.

Cinemas two and three screened non-high-frequency versions of the film.

The Hobbit was filmed at a rate of 48 frames per second, which Mr Christensen said made everything look clearer and was "a bit like removing the pops and scratches from a vinyl record".

"We were obviously extremely disappointed that we couldn't present the opening night with a high-frequency version, but everyone was very good about it."

Mr Christensen said cinema one should be back up and running today or tomorrow.

The cinema's movie schedule was expected to be "back to normal" by the weekend.

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- Nelson

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