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Three Hobbit Films? Do I hear Four?

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | July 17, 2012 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | July 17, 2012 |

So Warner Brothers Films told Variety under no uncertain terms that The Hobbit would be two films not three. Which was kind of funny since no one had asked them the question. Warner also denied that they were deploying the B-3 bomber to Albania. Well, the reason for that unprompted denial became clear over the weekend when Peter Jackson decided to start talking to everyone with a microphone about how he was going to do a bunch of new filming for The Hobbit next year, and that he was still trying to get the studio to pay for it.

I wasn’t terribly keen on The Hobbit being broken in two in the first place, but three? It was one novel, and it seems absurd that it would end up having an eight hour running time equivalent to that of its three volume sequel. Honoring the material and all that aside, I have OCD consistency issues with such a proposition. It’s as mad as owning several books by an author, but some are hard cover, some paper backs, some trade paper backs. And then they can’t all go on the same shelf because they are different heights. How can books by the same author be different heights? It shouldn’t be possible in a rational universe and it leads to madness.

Faster than you can say triple-diamond-super-extended-edition-director’s-mega-cut, Jackson denied that the additional footage was just for additional scenes on the DVDs. But he gave this kicker:

…we haven’t just adapted The Hobbit; we’ve adapted that book plus great chunks of his appendices and woven it all together. The movie explains where Gandalf goes; the book never does. We’ve explained it using Tolkien’s own notes. That helped inform the tone of the movie, because it allowed us to pull in material he wrote in The Lord of the Rings era and incorporate it with The Hobbit. So we kept the charm and the whimsy of the fairy tale quality through the characters. Through the dwarves and Bilbo, who is more of a humorous character. He doesn’t try to be funny but we find him funny and find his predicament more amusing than that of Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. That was more serious. So the whimsy is there, but tonally I wanted to make it as similar to The Lord of the Rings, because I wanted it to be possible for the people, the crazy people in the world who want to watch these films back to back one day…

Jackson alludes to the appendices to the Lord of the Rings, which give great gobs of background history and detail to the main body of the story. I appreciate that Jackson wants to use these bits, to fill in some reasonable gaps in the narrative. But it also opens a can of worms. There are a dozen additional books of notes and tidbits of mythology penned by Tolkien; those appendices are but the tip of that iceberg. Is Jackson planning to make additional films set in Middle-Earth then? Tell the story of the jewels, of the fall of Morgoth?

Those background stories are far more interesting to me than the details of The Hobbit, which as a story was sort of the gateway drug for me into the much larger world Tolkien left behind.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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