The Hobbit’s cutting edge sound mix

With the first installment of The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson’s clearly not afraid to embrace new technology.

The trilogy was shot in HD 3D at 48 frames a second, and it also boasts a new state of the art sound system that’s been touted as yet another game changer for the biz.

The new sound system is called Atmos, and Wired has called it “3-D for your ears.” Jackson also told The Hollywood Reporter that 48 frames a second coupled with Atmos will “allow the audience to participate in the events on screen, rather than watching them unfold.” Atmos has been developed by Dolby, and Jackson says with this new technology, the company has surpassed itself.

Jackson continued that Atmos “provides the completely immersive sound experience that filmmakers like myself have long dreamed about.” Considering Atmos is brand new, only 80-100 screens will have it when the Hobbit is released on December 14, but Taken 2 also had Atmos sound at 15 theaters. 

Back when the original Star Wars came out in 1977, theaters had to redo their sound systems for Dolby Stereo, or they couldn’t get the movie. For Atmos, things are going to grow much slower, because it may be too expensive for 4,000 theaters in America to revamp their current stereo systems. The Reporter tells us it would cost $25 -30,000 to install Atmos per theater, yet could the Hobbit be the movie that pushes the technology through? 

In addition to The Hobbit, Brave, the aforementioned Taken 2, Chasing Mavericks, Life of Pi, and one more film that hasn’t been announced yet, will all have Atmos screenings by the end of the year. By next year, Dolby is hoping to have fifteen movies with the Atmos technology out in theaters. 

The official running time of The Hobbit has also been confirmed, and according to Empire magazine, it will be two hours and forty minutes. As Jackson told Empire, “It’s going to be about ten minutes shorter than Fellowship was. So it’s officially going to be the shortest Middle-earth yet.”