I'm a huge LOTR fan. Like all good fans, I've read the books multiple times, (including the Silmarillion), read countless of Tolkien's other writings, biographies, etc, watched the movies too many times to count, made my own fan film, studied the Elvish language, and watched the progress of the Hobbit since before ROTK was even released.
However, I'm not going to the midnight opening. I'm not even going the next day, or the next week. And it's not just because movie theaters can give me migraine headaches.
It's not even because there isn't a close-captioned version to see.
Most of you know I'm deaf, and absolutely /must/ have subtitles to watch any type of video. (Many thanks to all you YouTube-rs who subtitle your films! Love you guys!). Movie theaters have struggled to provide technology that is both cost effective and accessible for the handicapped without pushing out the non-disabled.
Rear View Captioning was a pain in the neck, sometimes literally. Using a mirror on a stick system that Leonardo da Vinci would have been proud of, it was difficult to adjust properly, and shook annoyingly whenever you shifted in your seat. Forget getting up to go to the bathroom, or letting anyone pass you, it meant readjusting the whole thing, and even then you had to look back and forth between the mirror and the big movie screen. Awful, but better than no captions.
Open Captioning was marvelous. The words were right there on the screen. My family members who were used to captions didn't even notice they were there... however I know people who complain about subtitles and would have avoided those showings.
Both of these instances keep the available watching options limited, as there were few theaters with the space and/or money to arrange/install the necessary features. Usually only one or two movies would play at a given location in a week, and unless you live in a metropolitan area, good luck finding an accessible theater. The closest to me even now is 20 minutes away - beyond that it is 45. When I lived in Fargo? Nothing.
New technology is working to overcome this. It features a headset you wear, that beams the words 'onto the screen'... or so it appears to you. They're displayed inside the goggles. Non-intrusive, and run by an infrared signal that goes through the theater, they can be worn in any movie, at any time. Suddenly the options are limitless.
Or are they?
Take a look at the eyewear we're supposed to wear.
For some people, wearing goggles is no big deal. But for most people with hearing aids, we already are carrying a lot of weight on our ears. Adding something more to that is not an option. I personally have to wear the lightest prescription glasses my eyeglass provider carries, and I still have to let my hearing aids dangle off my ears every now and then to give my ears a rest. (Yes, I do know my hearing aids are hanging out, I put them there!) When I explained the system to my deaf aunt, she was likewise frustrated and annoyed, saying that she hoped they'd go back to open captions which she also preferred.
Likely this will work for some people. The theaters love it, as every theater within driving distance of my house have now implemented it. I now have no choice - no movie, no subtitles, or painful ears and head.
I expect at some point (when my health has improved further so that I'm no longer afraid of migraines) I will give this technology a try, just to be 100% fair. But it's not an experience I'm looking forwards to, and not something I think I would undergo - even for the Hobbit.
Hopefully over time better technology will open options... or DVDs will release at the same time as the theater versions. Movie watching is an ever-evolving scene and who knows what the future will hold?