Director Ang Lee has spent his career making movies with standout visuals that audiences have never seen before, whether it’s fighting among the trees in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” or the 3D spectacle of “Life of Pi.”
But the filmmaker is putting the final touches on a movie that pushes the visual boundaries beyond what anyone has done before.
Lee’s next movie is “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which is based on the acclaimed 2012 novel of the same name about the victory tour of 19-year-old soldier Billy Lynn following an intense battle in Iraq. Lee shot the 3D movie in 120 frames per second. It will be the first film ever shown to the public in that format.
But it’s hard to gauge how many audiences will be able to see the movie as Lee intended, since most theatres can’t play a movie at that speed.
The standard speed movies shoot at is 24 frames per second. Peter Jackson used 48 frames per second for his “The Hobbit” trilogy, the first time that was ever done for a wide release. It should be said that not everyone enjoyed the experience, however.
Business Insider has talked to people who saw the 11 minutes of “Billy Lynn” presented at CinemaCon back in April, and they say they were blown away by the visuals. And that at 120 frames, the movie doesn’t have the television look that many complained about when seeing “The Hobbit” movies in 48 frames.
However, the “Billy Lynn” war footage has been a lot for audiences in test screenings to handle.
“Test subjects that have seen some footage have commented that 40 minutes after seeing battle footage, they’re still shaking,” “Billy Lynn” production systems supervisor Ben Gervais told Variety.
The film, which was made for a remarkably cheap $40 million, will have its world premiere in 120 frames during the New York Film Festival on October 14.
But how many theatres in the US have the ability to show the movie at 120 frames when it opens nationwide on November 11?
Right now, none.
According to Patrick Corcoran, vice president and chief communications officer at the National Association of Theatre Owners, there is currently no commercial theatre in the country that is capable of running a 3D movie shot in 4K at 120 frames per second. And Corcoran points out that a major factor in whether multiplexes convert for the technology is if there’s a “return on investment.”
“That means will audiences know the difference and will it attract more to come to the theatre,” said Corcoran, who added that some theatres will be able to show “Billy Lynn” at 60 frames per second.
At CinemaCon, the footage was shown using a special duel-projector setup for 120 frames, according to Variety.
According to the announcement for the “Billy Lynn” screening at the New York Film Festival, the movie will be released theatrically on 2D and 3D versions, and both will feature new visual techniques.
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