Maybe I Spoke Too Soon

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Rob Cain at ChinaFilmBiz just posted the weekend’s gross for The Hobbit in China. It falls short of projections and will probably not reach the billion dollar club until sometime in early March. Of course this will be considered a loss of which piracy is a contributor, but Cain has a point about the mood of the Chinese viewers. And now I’m also second guessing my scoffing at the insider assessment Peter Jackson was forced to make the film in 3D. Maybe he understood something Warners didn’t. Maybe he reads Rob’s blog? ;-)

And I had to snaffle that cool Chinese Hobbit poster. Thank you, Rob. :D

edit: I’ve had a few minutes to think and still believe Jackson was not strong armed into making The Hobbit in 3D. He is too curious about technology and is in such a glorious position to push the envelope on 3D HFR.

The Hobbit on the Threshold of the Billion Dollar Club

Bilbo-and-Sting-poster-for-The-Hobbit-An-Unexpected-Journey

The Hobbit’s box office receipts are recorded at $960,001,896 as of today, but this time next week, it’s likely to officially join the small number of other films which have reached a billion dollars in revenue. The film’s release in China this weekend is cause for such confidence. What happy timing considering the broadcast of Oscar presentations and the dearth of nominations for The Hobbit — excepting the wonderful Tami Lane and Weta Digital bunch.

I wasn’t always this optimistic it could reach the benchmark this quickly. After reading about the piracy which can ensue when there’s a considerable lag time between a film’s release in other countries and China, it was hard not to think The Hobbit would go the way of Skyfall. But I forgot something, and it wasn’t the love affair the Chinese seem to have with fantasy. They also love 3D. This was so easy to forget since it’s never been very popular in America. In fact it has been talked about for years as being dead. I will admit 48fps might resurrect it some, but people have to be willing to give it a try first. I’m not confident that enough in the U.S. did that with Jackson’s movie. But in China, 3D is the rage and will go a long way toward pulling the Chinese to the cinema.

At Comic-Con last year someone in the film industry told me Peter Jackson was more or less forced by Warner Brothers to make it in that format. I’m not sure I agree that Jackson had to be forced especially when I consider his business savvy. But now that I understand the piracy issue a little more, it makes sense Warners would be adamant about it. It’s a kind of insurance policy against piracy. And when considering the box office receipts of the top grossing movies, e.g., Avatar, it’s abundantly clear the format will survive well beyond The Hobbit. But even if the receipts hadn’t been so bent toward 3D, the fastest growing area of the film market is in China, so it more than the U.S. is dictating what we will be seeing. And all of it makes me wonder if indie films will suffer, but that’s for another post.

If you didn’t click on the Skyfall link, I hope you will at some point. It leads to the China Film Biz blog written by Rob Cain who has been been doing business in the industry in China since 1987. He is a wealth of knowledge.

And now a poster featuring our guy since we can’t get enough of looking at him. :D

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[click to enlarge]

The facial features are very finely done and the entire poster seems to have an Asian quality. Whatever that is. Someone more articulate than I am may explain.

Seeing Red

Those firmly in RA Universe know by now Peter Jackson screened 10 minutes of ‘The Hobbit’ at CinemaCon, and it was ill received by a significant number of attendees. The plan by Warner Bros. was to highlight the potential sea change in movie making with the advent of cameras like the Red Epic. What I found completely predictable, and I’m going to be shocked if Sir Peter and Warners didn’t as well, were the stunned reactions of a bunch of theater owners and some journalists who needed something interesting to write. This gathering was not conducive to appreciation of something highly creative and inventive in film making. It was mostly about the bottom line, about consumption and give it to me now.

After the lean years of movie going and fear of not being in the black, I can understand theater owners not being eager to embrace something that requires them to invest lots of money and must in part be an acquired taste for the public. As for most of the journalists, they did not do their homework as per usual and must hear the same things over and over. For those who did do their homework, they knew Peter Jackson had already made it plain how 48fps will look and for ‘The Hobbit’ film will require some additional work on his part. Check out 5:00 to about 6:45 and especially the part about “grading down.”

For now I’m assuming Peter Jackson was not thrown a bit by the reaction at CinemaCon:

Peter Jackson responds to complaints about ‘The Hobbit’ footage — BREAKING

by Anthony Breznican
Peter Jackson says the negative reaction this week over new technology he’s using to shoot The Hobbit won’t hold him back, and he hopes moviegoers will give it a try and judge for themselves.

“Nobody is going to stop,” he said. “This technology is going to keep evolving.”

He hopes critics of the format will change their minds when they see the finished film.

“At first it’s unusual because you’ve never seen a movie like this before. It’s literally a new experience, but you know, that doesn’t last the entire experience of the film; not by any stretch, after 10 minutes or so,” Jackson tells EW. “That’s a different experience than if you see a fast-cutting montage at a technical presentation.”

So what does he say to people who just decide they don’t like the glossy new look of the format he’s using?

“I can’t say anything,” Jackson acknowledges. “Just like I can’t say anything to someone who doesn’t like fish. You can’t explain why fish tastes great and why they should enjoy it.”

Right now, every second of a motion picture is made up of 24 images, or “frames,” but Jackson is shooting his two Hobbit films at 48 frames per second, which he says creates a more lifelike picture and will make 3-D less of a strain on the eyes.

Read the rest here

As for me, I found the Ain’t It Cool write up on ‘The Hobbit’ screening about the most fair assessment, and I’m willing to wait for the finished product.

I’m also glad I finally got to highlight this vlog. It has been the most fascinating to me so far, but in the autumn I had a few things going on to keep me from giving the piece its due. Oh well, I got a chance to begin now and will have more to say on the subject.

Obviously something interesting happened. :D See you on Tuesday.