The only place I can find in the entire nation (using limited searching tools) the full boat a) IMAX b) 3D c) HFR release of the Hobbit-Smaug movie is the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. In any large city, you can find either IMAX 3D or HFR 3D, but not the trifecta. That is in just the one theater.
I fear the dilution of our precious national frame rate. Don't count on the Europeans to help. Those barbarians think 50 Hz is perfectly adequate. Video delivery in the US is increasing done with mobile and notebook devices -- at 30 Hz rather than good old American 60 Hz. Yes, I said it, 30 Hz video. And somehow that's okay. If that's okay, then why bother with 48 Hz in the theater. And likewise, if the theaters get by with 24, what's wrong with 30 Hz "TV". If Peter Jackson's experiment doesn't gain market traction, we may lose a generation to low frame rate visual imagery.
But the very devices that bring the scourge of 30 Hz video may be the solution. Deep inside the production studios will exist the master format: 60 Hz video. The video production professionals know what's up, and won't let their visual imagery stutter. One mobile device maker will dig deep and tap into that high frame rate video. "Why do sports look like shit on my phone?" "Dear sir, you suffer from low frame rate syndrome. Try one of my brand!"
(I think 24 Hz is a lovely temporal format. But it should be one of many. Personally, I like 120 Hz, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.)
IMAX 3D HFR Hobbit-Smaug is also available in Ontario, California (eastern edge of LA county). For those familiar with the area, the theater is conveniently located at the Ontario Mills mall. Not at the AMC Ontario 30 inside the mall, but the at other theater right next to the mall, the Edwards Ontario Palace Stadium 22 and IMAX.
Okay, google's movie search, which sucks the least of the ones I use, assumes that no one is stupid enough to drive 30 miles to see a movie. With finer searches, I found two more theaters in SoCal (Irvine) and one in NorCal (Dublin). Someone might be dumb enough to drive 36 miles to Dublin to see that format, and I could easily be that someone.
I've never seen anything at 48 Hz, but what do you make of some people's claims that it looks "weird"? Is it just unfamiliarity?
not to cross streams but new line cinema, the studio which puts out the lord of the rings movies (and which is not surprisingly their most successful franchise), started out as a b-movie company in 1967 by a 27 year old working out of his apartment at 14st and 2nd ave. one of his first successes was distributing reefer madness.also, they are currently (?) being sued by 15 actors from the lord of the rings and peter jackson for questionable accounting practices.
By making movement more lifelike, it may make the content seem more prosaic. Also, it can undermine visual effects. I noticed a little bit of CGI that looked okay at 24 Hz in the first Hobbit looked hokey at 48. The effects people have to work harder to hide their magic as resolution (spatial, temporal or bit depth) increase.
Saw RealD 3D (HFR). I don't know why they put parentheses around HFR, but it seems to be the fashion.
To further answer Jim's question, another aspect of these films is the lack of grain. In a digital world, the chemical artifact is lost.
One explanation I stumbled across is the uncanny valley. When stuff looks more and more real, at a certain point it starts to look weird. If the eye accepts something as "fake" that's fine. If the eye accepts something as "real" that's fine. But somewhere in-between it looks creepy.
Jackson uses a lot of fast moving imagery, fast camera moves, scenes that are likely to show up with judder artifacts. These look much nicer at 48. The tradeoff is that slow stuff may look odd to some eyes.
I also saw American in Paris yesterday. 35 mm is my guess. I couldn't help but wonder how much better it would look if it was a clean re-master. Also I was irritated at the projectionist for not setting up the projector for the film ratio (wider than old analog TV, narrower than HD TV, and way narrower than any modern movie). The tops of heads kept getting chopped off, because he set up the projector to fill up the screen horizontally.
Big ol' nerd, just watch the damn movie.