On Monday, we reported that filming of The Hobbit has been delayed thanks to MGM’s ongoing financial difficulties.
Well, we’ve been on the blower to our mate Guillermo Del Toro for an update...
GDT made it clear that the delay is not affecting pre-production. Quite the opposite. It seems it's given him time to properly map out his latest idea for the prequels: 4D .
“ Avatar was groundbreaking in so many ways,” Del Toro told us. “But now everybody is doing the exact same thing. Alice , Clash Of The Titans ... By the time The Hobbit films come out, we’ll be old news. Everybody will be sick of 3D.”
So how to inject some new blood into the formula?
“I spoke with Peter Jackson,” says the director. “And he told me that the guys at WETA have been looking into the possibilities of 4D... Before he’d even finished the sentence I said, ‘Let’s do it!’”
The 4D concept has been around since the '50s and the WETA-driven modern version will seek to combine Avatar 's brand of digital 3D visuals with environmental stimuli (touch, smell, motion...) to give an all-round immersive cinematic experience.
Del Toro is a famously hands-on director with a passion for mechanics and in-camera effects, so it's no big surprise that he's looking to use The Hobbit to spearhead the next technological leap forward.
Back in the '50s, director William Castle famously employed ambient, in-cinema techniques in a quest for deeper audience involvement. (His story is told - in all but name - in the 1993 John Goodman Matinee ).
“I’ve always been a fan of the William Castle approach,” says Del Toro. “He really got the audience wriggling in their seats.”
Castle’s gimmicks included a glow in the dark skeleton - which flew over the heads of audience members during House On Haunted Hill - while people were given little electric shocks during screenings of The Tingler .
It’s an idea that was also used more recently for the Shrek 4D ride at Universal Studios, where seats jolted and water was sprayed on unsuspecting movie-watchers.
So what can we expect from Del Toro’s angle on 4D?
“We won’t be doing anything tacky like scratch 'n' sniff,” he says. “But we’re looking into options for in-seat fragrance manipulation for the sequence where the company encounter the trolls. We'll have to distill something really horrible.”
But Del Toro is most excited about the idea of heated seats - which would “warm up” when Bilbo enters Smaug’s chamber - and the use of dry ice and water sprays for the cave scenes when Gollum speaks in riddles to our eponymous hobbit.
“We’re really excited about how far we can push the idea,” Del Toro says. “Movies are always evolving and growing, and this is the next step in that evolution. We can’t wait to get started.”
Think this sounds awesome? Or is all the extra-dimensional nonsense getting a bit silly? Time to return to traditional 2D? Speak below!