WB Prepping THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY 48fps 3D Format for Limited Release

Director Peter Jackson's upcoming fantasy adaptation, starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, and Andy Serkis as Gollum, is now scheduled to be split into three films.

The Hobbit follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakensheild. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever … Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

After premiering new HFR (high-frame-rate) 3D footage from the film at Las Vegas CinemaCon earlier this year, director Peter Jackson and came under a bit of fire from attendees who were not enthusiastic about the new digital projection format featured in the film. The Hobbit will be the first big budget project of it's caliber to be released in 48 frames per second, as opposed to the standard 24 frames per second, which makes the images clearer, brighter and faster.

Warner Bros appears to be convinced that the 48fps format will be "the next big thing" regarding theatrical releases, but are hedging their bets with The Hobbit.

Variety reports that the studio is prepping to only release the 48fps version in " select locations, perhaps not even into all major cities," while shelling out the money to transfer the film to the standard 24fps format necessary to play in conventional theaters. Those venues choosing to release the film through HFR projection will need hardware and/or software upgrades to accommodate it.

The first film, titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be released on December 14, 2012. The second film is slated for release the following year, on December 13, 2013, and the third will hit theaters summer 2014. Directed by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings Trilogy), the films star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Andy Serkis as Gollum, Elijah Wood as Frodo, plus Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Stephen Hunter, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bret McKenzie, James Nesbitt, Luke Evans and others.