'Gemini Man' director Ang Lee wants high frame rate movies to get 'a fair shot'

Tom Beasley
Ang Lee appears on stage during the CinemaCon Paramount Pictures Exclusive Presentation on April 4, 2019. (Credit: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images)

Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has reaffirmed his excitement about the future of high frame rate (HFR) technology in cinema ahead of the release of his Will Smith-starring sci-fi Gemini Man.

Lee said his previous attempt at utilising the tech — 2016 drama Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk — wasn’t “given a fair shot”.

While most movies are shot at 24 frames per second, and have been for decades, Lee believes that a rate between 60 fps and 120 fps provides the most immersive experience.

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Gemini Man features Smith as an elite assassin who finds himself engaged in a deadly pursuit with someone who can seemingly predict his every move — a clone of his younger self.

The film features Lee experimenting once again with 3D filmmaking and an increased frame rate, similar to that deployed in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy as well as in Lee’s previous film.

Will Smith comes face to face with his younger self in Ang Lee's new sci-fi movie 'Gemini Man'. (Credit: Paramount)

Speaking to Variety after a screening in New York City, the 64-year-old filmmaker said he still believes in the potential of HFR and that “curiosity overcame fear” in pursuing the technology.

“It’s a new medium. It’s full of potential. It’s a new language,” he said.

“If it’s not me, somebody else will figure it out.”

Lee described the project of exploring HFR shooting as one of “cumulative learning”, stating that Gemini Man features more scenes shot at night and location filming to counteract the way HFR exposes sets as fake.

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He said: “It’s not like I learned from Billy Lynn and now I know what to do. Even making this, I’m still learning.

“Each time you have a new medium it forces you to examine things.

“Why do we exist? How do we perceive things? Why do we think something is pretty?”

Will Smith gets a digital makeover to become his younger self in sci-fi thriller 'Gemini Man'. (Credit: Paramount)

Referring to the reaction to Billy Lynn — which made just $31m (£25m) at the worldwide box office — Lee said the reaction was “quite brutal”.

“It wasn’t given a fair shot really,” he said.

“[Sony] didn’t know what to do with that movie. They had mixed feelings.”

Despite the criticism of HFR in some quarters, Lee has said he is determined to pursue innovation in his big screen work.

He said: “I’ll continue to chase the aesthetic of digital cinema. It has an aesthetic that’s worth grasping.

“We’ve been imitating film and that’s not right. You can use it as a reference, but it’s a different medium.”

Ang Lee arrives on the red carpet of the 55th Golden Horse film awards on November 17, 2018. (Credit: Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images)

Lee said he acknowledges that this is something of a lonely fight, as very few major filmmakers have joined him in embracing this new technology.

“I know it’s going to be hard. I’m going to take a lot of hits,” he said.

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“I’m going to struggle and it could be lonely for a long time.

“I’m going to keep exploring because I want to see what kind of stories we can tell.”

Gemini Man will arrive in UK cinemas on 11 October.