Update (12/15): I watched The Hobbit at COEX’s M2관 and can confirm a few things. The dual projectors make for a much brighter, clearer, less headache-inducing 3D experience. There was almost no blur from fast motion (perhaps that’s the 48FPS). Further the screen is not as tall as an IMAX, but is super-wide and fits the films aspect ratio almost perfectly. I was in Row F but probably will chose Row G for a full view.
The big winner is the Atmos sound system, which gives you an amazing sense of perspective. It feels as if you are in the centre of the action, while the sounds move above and around you. There is a particular scene with a group of dwarves singing in which you can distinguish each individual singer’s voice coming from a different point in space while the soundtrack creates an encompassing soundfield.
Update (12/14): According to Dolby, Mokdong Megabox’s M2관 has Atmos as well. The Megabox site does not report this to be the case, but they also had poor information on the COEX M2관 until today (12/14). Proceed at your own risk. (source)
This topic got a decent amount of retweets, and given that there is no one place to get all the details in English, I will give a brief rundown of the (potentially) best places to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Korea. I won’t bother with the basic theatres or even regular 3D as those will be quite easy to find. If you’re a die hard LotR, Tolkien, or Peter Jackson fan you’ll want to look out for these key words: HFR 3D, IMAX HFR 3D, Atmos.
Sound / Dolby Atmos: You can read up on Atmos yourself, but imagine the surround sound experience extending above you with ceiling mounted speakers to create a completely immersing soundfield (source). By soundfield, I mean you should not hear the passage of sounds between speakers. The idea of Atmos is to for you do be immersed in a sphere of sound. By the way, your only other option for Atmos in Korea is Yeongdeungpo CGV’s 4관.
Video / Dual 4K projector HFR 3D: Peter Jackson has promised that HFR (high frame rate) 3D wil blow us away where regular 3D has proven disappointing to some. Regardless, 3D movies are darker and generally half the resolution of their 2D counterparts if the cinema doesn’t use dual projectors. This is why IMAX 3D is much better and why, if you can’t get to COEX, your next best bet is an IMAX cinema. M2관 has matched IMAX’s two projectors, and while the video may not be as crystal clear as IMAX (in theory), the Atmos (mentioned above) tips the scale, and definitely makes seeing it in any other cinema a non-possibility.
If video is the most important thing (while IMAX sounds was the most amazing, it’s no Atmos) then Wangsimni IMAX is your best bet due to it’s large properly concave screen and spacious, well-angled seating.
Finally, if you can’t get to an HFR 3D cinema, then see it in 2D, please. However, most CGV’s have at least one screen showing it in HFR 3D.
A list: (Note: Except Sangam and Wangsimni, it appears the other IMAX screens are not capable of HFR)
COEX Megabox m2관 – HFR 3D / Dolby Atmos / Dual 4K Projectors (schedule)
Yeongdeungpo CGV 4관 – HFR 3D **Single 2K projector / Dolby Atmos (schedule)
Wangsimni CGV IMAX – IMAX HFR3D (schedule)
Sangam CGV IMAX – IMAX HFR 3D (schedule note: this is the one at World Cup Stadium)