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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

it’s official! Peter Jackson is making ‘The Hobbit’

Just got a press release from New Line Cinema. Here are the relevant details:

• Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will executive produce two films based on The Hobbit.

• New Line Cinema and MGM will coproduce and share worldwide distribution rights.

• New Line will “manage” the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.

• Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation related to The Lord of the Rings.
• Harry Sloan, chairman and CEO of MGM, says that all involved are now “focus[ing] on assembling the production team that will capture this phenomenal tale on film.”

• Bob Shaye, cochairman and co-CEO of New Line, says that “Peter and Fran will be actively and creative involved” with the project.

• Michael Lynne, cochairman and co-CEO of New Line, says that everyone is “delighted” that “the Tolkien saga will continue with [Jackson’s] imprint.”

• Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with a release of the first film in 2010 and the second in 2011.

There’s nothing in the release about who will direct the film, and it seems to me that everyone’s dancing around avoiding saying who will — or will not — be at the helm. If it’s not Jackson, who will it be? Rumors have been flying about a Sam Raimi Hobbit for ages now, but as much as I love his work, I don’t think he’s quite the right director for this. Who else could pull it off, if not Jackson?

And a bigger question: Who will star as Bilbo?

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  • bitchen frizzy

    Bilbo will be played by Will Ferrell.

  • MaryAnn

    Nooooooooooooooooooo!

    (deep breath)

    Nooooooooooooooooooo!

  • Let’s just hope they get Sir Ian to play Gandalf again; he owns that role. I actually think that Jackson is the wrong guy for the Hobbit. It’s a different vibe; Tim Burton should be in charge for this one.
    for horror casting, how about all the dwarves played by Adam Sandler’s ratpack?

  • Jurgan

    Two films for a book that’s shorter than any of the Rings books? I don’t get it- seems like overkill.

  • Maddie

    The Hobbit is going to be a HARD film to adapt. Not only is it not tonally consistent with The Lord of the Rings, but character-wise the film would be a mess. Thirteen nearly identical dwarves in the main cast? No female characters? Only brief cameos from characters from the existing trilogy of films? Then it will be followed by a second film made up almost entirely of filler (out of all Tolkien’s rich backstory…there’s not much that happens cinematically between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring). Add in the time-crunch of the writer’s strike and the requirement that the film needs to be complete by 2010 to maintain the rights, and you’ve got a very bad situation….

  • bitchen frizzy

    It will be hard to adapt, but not so hard as LOTR. It’s thematically much simpler, with no chronologically concurrent plot lines, and it’s lighter fare (it was a children’s novel, after all).

    Most of the dwarves had few lines and no essential contribution to the plot. They’d be strictly background characters, and some could simply be deleted. Sacrilege to some, but such is the price of movie adaptations. Jackson axed Glorfindel and Bombadil from LOTR, and survived the backlash. I don’t see female characters as a necessity for a successful box office (though hot elf chicks wouldn’t hurt), and there’s no law requiring them (Jackson might find a way to fit one in somewhere, but then there’s the risk of her sticking out as the token female). I don’t get the second film comment: IIUC, the movies would be the novel split in two parts. I suspect the draft of the screenplay is already done, and that’s all that Jackson needs to get to work, since he invests himself in the script and will probably make numerous changes anyway. The time crunch is a problem, though I suspect that much of the casting is already tentatively complete and the financing is in place.

  • Maddie

    I agree that splitting the novel into two parts would be the better way for them to proceed. However, all the reporting on the two-movie solution for the Hobbit has stated the intention is to adapt the Hobbit as one movie, and then create a second movie to bridge between the films (showing Gandalf and the council of wizards ousting Sauron from Mirkwood, and Aragorn tracking the movements of Gollum, most likely). I seriously doubt there’s been any work done on either screenplay yet, though, beyond the most rudimentary of outlines.

  • bitchen frizzy

    I should say few chronologically concurrent plot lines, not none. But the overlaps aren’t lengthy, mostly cutting back and forth between the characters when they get separated.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Hmm, interesting.

    There’s material enough between Hobbit and LOTR for a movie, but yeah, it’s sketchy and would need a lot of fleshing out. No recreating scenes and dialogue from the book for that movie.

  • Ryan H

    I think Jackson should get women to play a few of the dwarves and not tell anyone. Have it just be there without changing anything else.

  • Hdj

    In regards to frizzy, I might have believed what you have stated if you mentioned some one in the likes of Jack Black, Will Farrel is way too lengthy.

  • Moe

    Only three questions I need answered.

    1) Is PJ directing? If not, who?

    2) Why a second movie? Hobbit can fit neatly into a 150 min – 165 min film. A bridge between Hobbit and LOTR would be dumb.

    3) Ian holm seems to old for a younger Bilbo now.
    Who will replace him and how will that fit into the scene where Bilbo picks up the ring in Fellowship’s opening moments?

  • two movies: There — and Back Again.

  • Jackson and Walsh think there’s enough material (and interest) to include some of the material from the LOTR appendixes and other works.

    You could, for example, have the meeting of Arwen and Aragorn, which happens pretty much after The Hobbit but before the Lord of the Rings. How Frodo comes to live with Bilbo. Et.c. And the movies could also be closer to two hours than three hours.

    The big challenge I think is to make the Hobbit a little more sophisticated. It’s not nearly as complicated as the LOTR books, as it’s more of a kid’s book and easy intro to Middle Earth.

    Even if Jackson doesn’t direct (and I hope he does, but see where he might not have the time (though a current rumor running around is that he’ll direct the THIRD Tintin movie, which would be shot after The Hobbit)), keeping Weta and some of the cast involved should help keep The Hobbit on an even keel.

    Laurie
    (former owner of the boycottnewline.com site; I celebrated yesterday’s news by seeing The Golden Compass today. Not a great movie, but it had its moments.)

  • bitchen frizzy

    Uh-oh. What do you mean by “more sophisticated” and why?

    The book’s structural simplicity makes screenplay adaptation easier.

    Yes, there’s tons of material to work with for a second movie. Lots of stuff happens in that 80-year period, plus whatever Jackson and [TBD] cook up.

  • Nicholette

    I’m ticked that Fran and Jackson are at it again for a screenplay. It’s okay that Jackson took out some parts of LOTR, but to CHANGE STORY LINES and certain character’s roles (ahem, Faramir, anyone?) is just ridiculous. He did it over and over again in the movies. The climax was when he made Frodo go ahead with Gollum and tell Sam to “go home” in the third movie–basically ruining the actual storyline, which has one of the most touching seens in the entire novel series.
    I hope he doesn’t screw things up like he did last time.

  • Nicholette

    Oops, I meant to write, “scenes.” Anyways, I hope they get a good director who cares more about the books than “drama,” and wow-factor, unlike Jackson.

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