The world may not be ready for Ang Lee’s Gemini Man. Literally.
Lee captured his new action thriller in 120 frames-per-second 4K 3D in order to bridge the uncanny valley between Will Smith and his costar, a clone played by a “young,” completely digital version of Smith. The director, who previously pushed the limitations of cinematic visuals in films like Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk and Life of Pi (which won him a second directing Oscar), intends for “HFR” projection to make the the unrealistic look hyper-realistic.
Except most people won’t see the fruit of Lee’s labor when the movie bows this Friday; Polygon confirmed with representatives from Paramount Pictures and Dolby Cinema that only 14 U.S. theaters will project Will Smith’s new action thriller in 120 fps 3D.
At the time of publication, Paramount was unable to supply Polygon with a full list of theaters playing the film at Lee’s intended specifications, though a rep said that nearly all HFR 3D screenings, including IMAX, would run at 60 fps. A Dolby Cinema representative provided Polygon with a list of the 14 American theaters supplied with the company’s proprietary technology that will run Gemini Man at the full frame rate — but only at 2K, not 4K. Dolby notes that several Odeon theaters outfitted with Dolby 3D in the U.K. will also project 120 fps.
(Oddly enough, when Gemini Man premiered at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles earlier this month, Paramount tricked the venue out with a CINITY Cinema System that projected the film at the maximum frame rate and resolution. Only a few theaters in Asia are expected to replicate the experience.)
So despite shooting the movie 120 fps 4K 3D, no theater in America will technically play the film as Lee intended. But some will come close. Here’s the full list of the Dolby-equipped U.S. theaters playing 120 fps 2K 3D:
AMC Aventura Mall 24 – Miami, FL
AMC Century City 15 – Los Angeles, CA
AMC Del Amo 18 – Los Angeles, CA
AMC Disney Springs 24 – Orlando, FL
AMC Elmwood Palace 20 – New Orleans, LA
AMC Flatiron Crossing 14 – Denver, CO
AMC Hawthorn 12 – Chicago, IL
AMC Lincoln Square 13 – New York, NY
AMC Metreon 16 – San Francisco, CA
AMC North Point 12 – Atlanta, GA
AMC River East 21 – Chicago, IL
AMC Town Square 18 – Las Vegas, NV
AMC White Marsh 16 – Baltimore, MD
AMC Willowbrook 24 – Houston, TX
Lee told Polygon after a screening of Gemini Man that 120 fps 2K 3D felt like the necessary avenue to make “Junior,” Smith’s digital avatar, a soulful character who could also appear to beat the living crap out of a real actor in the film’s many fight sequences. He also knew going in that the format would not be accessible for many viewers because of location, time, or the sour taste left by previous HFR screenings.
“It’s fair. People will be intimated by 3D and more data and more details,” Lee said. “It can be scary and most people won’t try it. But it also [gave] us more material to work with. We had 40 times more data, which meant 40 times more chance of flopping or succeeding. You just have more to work with, and in 3D, it’s sharper. Because of that, it made me want to do this. You can’t put on makeup or erase wrinkles or have his son play him and call that a clone.”
The gravitational pull of Netflix and the pristine viewing of home theater experiences is real. But Lee hopes some people will find Gemini Man and vindicate his experiment. “The scary part is that the TV is ahead of movies,” he said. “[But] I would like to show them it the right way.”