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Box Office: AN EXPECTED BOX OFFICE "JOURNEY"
Source: Jeff Bock
Date: Dec 14, 2012
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There is a very good reason no studio dares open a film this weekend against "The Hobbit"—it’s going to unleash a box office onslaught. After two extremely sub-par weekends, moviegoers far and wide will greet Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" prequel with a level of fanfare not seen, well, since “Breaking Dawn Part 2."

While "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" won't likely match the $141M opening bite of the final "Twilight" episode, expect Warner Bros. to capitalize on the beloved, dormant franchise, that hasn't seen the light of day in nearly a decade. 

The top debut for the "Lord of the Rings" franchise is $72M, which was the trilogy-caper, and best picture winner, "Return of the King."

“The Hobbit” opens in an ultra-wide 4,045 theaters—an estimated 3,160 in 3D, 450 in 48fps 3D, and 3,100 midnight screenings—so expect the first installment of the new trilogy to flirt with that magical $100 million number.

The studio itself is being cautiously optimistic, expecting it to come in under $100 million; however that’s nothing new when it comes to insider prognostications. They do have a right to be cautious though, as only “Harry Potter” and the “Twilight” franchise have ever opened a film in the fall season with $100+ million.  

So, why the uptick for “The Hobbit?” Well, besides pent-up demand, it’s being offered in up to six different formats, including, for the first time in the series, regular 3D and 48fps 3D—otherwise known as High Frame Rate (HFS)—both of which will increase ticket prices by around $4 a pop, which is the 3D standard.  

Like good ol' 24fps 3D or IMAX, 48fps 3D is another viewing option that moviegoers will now get to experience if they so choose. Troglodytes fear not, "The Hobbit" will also be available in traditional 2D, so you can see the Shire exactly how you remember it, and won't have to spend the first hour re-calibrating your eye sockets. 

So, what is this 48fps exactly? In simple terms, films are screened at 24 frames per second (fps), but Jackson shot "The Hobbit" in 3D at 48fps, which technically speaking, makes the motion flow twice as smooth. That said, what you'll likely experience at a 48fps screening isn't your brain melting, but images that come across more like digital home video, versus the normal film speed you're used to viewing. 

Peter Jackson explains his choice: "I think 3D at 24 frames is interesting, but it’s the 48 that actually allows 3D to almost achieve the potential that it can achieve because it’s less eye strain and you have a sharper picture which creates more of the 3-dimensional world."


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