Peter Jackson: Not Liking the Way I Shot The Hobbit Is About As Reasonable As Not Liking Arctic Char

Last week a bit of an uproar broke out over the advance footage of The Hobbit that Peter Jackson screened at CinemaCon. The issue in question is that The Hobbit — the adaptation of the Tolkien classic that Jackson is splitting into two movies — is being shot not in the standard 24 frames per second, but in a revolutionary, groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind 48 frames per second. As E! helpfully explains, “Despite his declaration that the new frame rate would offer up hyper-real visuals with a clarity and depth audiences don’t get at 24 fps, providing a richer, more immersive big-screen experience, several film exhibitors and bloggers felt 48 fps wasn’t ‘cinematic’ enough in the vein of his Lord of the Rings trilogy, comparing it to the crisp imagery people find on a hi-def television set.” A round of preemptive griping and groaning ensued, and a nation of Tolkien obsessives waited, hopefully, for Jackson to bow down to their technical expertise and remedy the error of his ways. But nope. Uh-uh. Petey Jackson ain’t having it.

Responding this weekend, Jackson totally shot the detractors down, in his own pleasingly calm manner: “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, [just] 10 minutes or so. That’s a different experience than if you see a fast-cutting montage at a technical presentation.” Also, as with Lord of the Rings, there will be “extensive digital grading” done on “The Hobbit, to make it consistent and give it the feeling of otherworldliness — to get the mood, the tone, the feel of the different scenes.” And, to the point: “There can only ever be a real reaction, a truthful reaction, when people actually have a chance to see a complete narrative on a particular film.”

Come on. Did you nerds really think you could rattle Peter Jackson? The guy has already been through the fanboy wringer in the most immense way on three Lord of the Rings movies, not to mention adaptations of such variety as King Kong and The Lovely Bones. At this point, nearly four decades in the game, he’s heard nitpicky criticism from superfans about everything. And, surely, he knows that this is only the beginning for The Hobbit’s complaint cycle, and that — out there, somewhere — there’s a general ticket-buying audience just living their lives, blissfully ignorant about frame rates. Oh, and one last thing — as to those who still won’t be convinced that 48 fps is the superior technique, even with his “wait and see” promises? What say you then, Pete? “I can’t say anything … 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.” Or, in other words: Seriously, you guys, shut the eff up for now.

Filed Under: Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

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