As you no doubt heard, Peter Jackson has announced that his much awaited return to Middle Earth will not be merely two Hobbit films, but rather, it will be three films forming yet another trilogy. For many this is fantastic news — even more hobbits, elves and wizards to gaze upon in glorious (and needless) 3D — but are these movies also glorious and needless?
The original announcement that The Hobbit was was going to be split into two films was met with some Internet whispering. People wondered how such a short story — one that sits pretty at 300 pages — could be turned into two films that would surely stretch beyond two hours each? Both former Hobbit director Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson assured fans it would serve the story and flesh out some of the underdeveloped characters and plots. I believed this, and as a Tolkien aficionado I know there are plenty of appendices and unfinished tales to draw upon for more material as well, so it made sense. Especially from a financial standpoint.
The cast was announced and there were no complaints from fans, all seemed perfect. We even got Jackson’s re-ascension to the director’s chair after Del Torro backed out, something that ultimately came as little surprise, despite the delays and the behind the scenes strife that had seemed to be working to keep the last piece from falling into place.
An early trailer set the tone and reminded us of the the Middle Earth that we admired and adored and Jackson’s production diaries gave fans a wonderful view into how things were progressing. All was wonderful and the came a bit of news that I don’t think anyone saw coming. Sure, rumors had been rife for the last few weeks, gathering on the wind and gaining momentum online. But surely it couldn’t be true, they weren’t going to stretch this out even further into a trilogy, were they? Apparently they were.
The reason? Jackson claims he was going to lose out on too much with just two films and that many key scenes were going to have to be cut or omitted entirely. This doesn’t make sense though, they have already added extra bits and pieces to flesh it out for An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again, so how could they possibly have left out what Jackson suggests are important sections?
The answer is depressing and simple. New Line and MGM will make more money from a trilogy and so too will Peter Jackson. They stood to make a fortune and now they are guaranteed to make three fortunes because each of these films has the potential to be blockbusters, possibly reaching the fabled billion dollar mark if marketed correctly. Now maybe there are certain creative reasons partially behind this almost unbelievable move but I really don’t think that “creativity” is at the heart of this.
What annoys me the most here, more than just the possible pursuit of rubies over the pursuit of integrity is — if you look back at Lord Of The Rings, with their extended DVD editions — they could have easily been split into two films each and there still would have been enough unused material for a third. It could have easily and justifiably been nine films. But that’s because that book is a tome, it is over a 1,000 pages. You can extend the battles in The Hobbit and add some new story elements but with three films, it is really going to start feeling stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread and we are the ones who are going to eat that bread.
Currently the films are scheduled for Christmas 2012 and 2013, with the newly announced and untitled third film set to hit cinema screens in the summer of 2014.
I’m still looking forward to these films, how could I not? They want more of my money and I’m sure they’ll get it. However now I’ll be viewing them through a glasses tinted with cynicism.