Hobbit to be released in Dolby Atmos

25 October 2012

Middle-earth will sound more realistic in The Hobbit

Dolby Laboratories Inc. and director Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Production announced today that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be mixed and released in Dolby Atmos, the company’s immersive new sound system that features two extra arrays of overhead speakers and the ability to direct sounds to individual speakers inside movie theatres.

“(Jackson) felt it was going to make a big difference in how he tells stories,” said Stuart Bowling, Dolby’s senior technical marketing manager. “He doesn’t want people to just go and observe his movies. He wants you to feel like you’re part of the experience of the stories that’s he’s trying to tell on the screen and allow you to be part of Middle-earth.”

The director of the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings films adapted J.R.R. Tolkien’s tale of Bilbo Baggins, set in the fictional realm of Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings. Besides the standard 2-D format, Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures are releasing the series in high-frame-rate 3-D, IMAX and other 3-D formats.

Bowling said Dolby’s goal is to have the Atmos platform installed in 80 to 100 theaters in time for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is scheduled to open in cinemas on December 14 after it’s world premiere in Wellington on November 28.

The second and third films, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, are set for release December 13, 2013, and July 18, 2014.

“Dolby Atmos is fantastic from a sound quality position,” said John Neill, head of sound at Park Road Post Production. “We can now hear full range surround speakers, meaning that when we pan from the front to surround, the sound does not change in quality. The overhead speakers give us the opportunity to place the theater patron really in the location.”

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