Some more updates about the shocking (or, uh, predictable) news I wrote about yesterday here on GeekDad that The Hobbit will now be released as a trilogy of films.
First, regarding the release schedule, some of the fuzziness has been cleared up. The first two films will be December releases, but the third will break that tradition (established by The Lord of the Rings trilogy) by being released mid-year instead.
According to the official press release from Warner Bros. Pictures, “The first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be released December 14, 2012, with the second film releasing on December 13, 2013, and the third film slated for summer 2014. All three films will be released in 3D and 2D in select theatres and IMAX.”
Also: TheOneRing.net has confirmed that “this newly announced film will not serve as a bridge film but continue to tell the story of The Hobbit, in three parts. It is believed that the breaking points of the first film has changed.”
This has raised speculation as to when the break would be between films one and films two, as well as between films two and films three, and how much extra material that’s not technically part of the book will be pulled in for more story (padding?). It has been suggested that “the first movie follow the escape of the goblins, the second cover the search for/destruction of Smaug, and the third follow the Battle of Five Armies.” But this dragon could be slain and carved up in several ways. We do know that more shooting has been scheduled for next summer, 2013, so it’s even possible the script has yet to be written for much of the third film.
The name of the first film will remain The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The name of the second film may change. As for the newly announced film, it’s untitled at the moment. According to Slashfilm, Warner Bros. has registered some domains that suggest possible titles: Riddles in the Dark, and the Desolation of Smaug.
Other ideas? I found some fun ones on Facebook:
Bringing Up Bilbo
Tyler Perry’s The Hobbit
50 Shades of Gandalf the Grey
Dude, Where’s My Ring?
Raiders of the Lost Arkenstone
and my favorite suggestion (also via Facebook):
“If they do change the name of the 2nd film, it can only be The Hobbit 2: Electric Boogaloo.”
(Thank you, Rebecca Perry.)
As for my favorite headline thus far, over at BadassDigest.com they proclaimed, “It’s Official: 300 Page Children’s Book To Be A Trilogy.”
Which is a good point. The Lord of the Rings is 1,000-plus pages. The Hobbit is not. The decision to make it three films is wearying to some. One commenter to my post yesterday, FreddyLongJohns, wrote, “Peter Jackson for the ‘Most likely to turn into George Lucas and ruin everything’ award.” It’s certainly a concern. Another reader, prime1987, jabbed with this comment: “The Hobbit: There and Back Again; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; The Hobbit: Cashing In.” Ouch. Maybe Sir PJ won’t be able to restore his reputation if fans think this is all about making gazillions.
Certainly, there’s a trend now of splitting franchise books into two films: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows started it, and the last movie of the Twilight saga, Breaking Dawn, and Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games series, will continue this practice, which seems more driven by doubling a studio’s money than the needs of the story or artistic excellence.
A GeekDad reader named Jonathan Cypher had this hopeful suggestion: “Maybe he’s doing it that way to shorten the length of the movies. So instead of sitting through 3 hours, we are only sitting through a standard 1 and a half, 2 when he makes extended versions.” That is a hopeful thought.
Risks? With three films to fill, we might get needless asides and random silliness. Too much backstory of a minor dwarf. Painful comic relief. A love interest for Gandalf. Let’s hope not. Still, there could be the issue of a watered-down plot. “Bilbo’s story could be in danger of getting thin and stretched, ‘like butter scraped over too much bread,'” said a commentator over at TheOneRing.net. True.
Meanwhile, long-silent Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R.’s aging son and literary executor and editor, is none too pleased about The Hobbit being made into a film. (He didn’t like it when LOTR was adapted, either.) In an incredibly rare interview with France’s Le Monde earlier in July (English translation here), he said, “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people 15 to 25. … And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”
He continued: “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time … The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has gone too far for me. Such commercialisation has reduced the esthetic and philosophical impact of this creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: turning my head away.”
Christopher will be none too pleased by the news of a Hobbit three-fer.
Meanwhile, our very own Erik Wecks is lobbying for The Silmarillion to be made as a movie. In case the folks at Warners, or Peter Jackson, need another project.