‘The Hobbit’: Peter Jackson will craft Shire sound in Dolby Atmos

Oct. 24, 2012 | 4:00 a.m.

Martin Freeman, center, in a scene from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” (Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Peter Jackson wants movie theaters to be filled with the sounds of Middle-earth.

New Zealand-based Park Road Post Production said Jackson’s new J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” will be mixed in Dolby Atmos, the state-of-the-art sound system that debuted earlier this year with Disney/Pixar’s animated film “Brave.”

Developed by San Francisco-based Dolby Laboratories, Dolby Atmos enables sound mixers to place sounds in any location of the movie theater to create a more naturalist and realistic atmosphere.

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“Dolby has always been at the cutting edge of providing cinema audiences with the ultimate sound experience, and they have now surpassed themselves,” Jackson, co-writer, director and producer of the upcoming “Hobbit” trilogy said in a statement. “Dolby Atmos provides the completely immersive sound experience that filmmakers like myself have long dreamed about.”

Academy Award-winning trio Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges and Michael Semanick (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) will create the Dolby Atmos mix at Wellington, New Zealand’s Park Road Post Production, which is owned by Jackson’s production company.

“It’s an inspiring time in cinema, with Peter Jackson taking moviemaking to new frontiers with Dolby’s next-generation audio solutions,” said Doug Darrow, senior vice president, cinema, Dolby Laboratories.

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Dolby aims to have 80 to 100 theaters capable of delivering the Atmos sound system by the Dec. 14 debut of the first “Hobbit” film.

Other films released in Dolby Atmos include Fox’s “Taken 2” and the studio’s upcoming “Chasing Mavericks” and “Life of Pi.”

The cost of the system, however, could slow its rollout. The equipment runs $30,000 to $50,000 to install, depending on the size of theater.

– Richard Verrier

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