The Sound of a Million Elves Celebrating

To my surprise, I find I’m on New Line Cinema’s PR list, so let me pass on this bit of news: Peter Jackson’s gonna make two films from The Hobbitt:

Los Angeles, CA (Tuesday, December 18, 2007) Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson; Harry Sloan, Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM); Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs of New Line Cinema have jointly announced today that they have entered into the following series of agreements:

* MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute two films, “The Hobbit” and a sequel to “The Hobbit.” New Line will distribute in North America and MGM will distribute internationally.

* Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as Executive Producers of two films based on “The Hobbit.” New Line will manage the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.

* Peter Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation relating to the “Lord of the Rings” (LOTR) Trilogy.

Said Peter Jackson, “I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a legacy we proudly share with Bob and Michael, and together, we share that legacy with millions of loyal fans all over the world. We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth. I also want to thank Harry Sloan and our new friends at MGM for helping us find the common ground necessary to continue that journey.”

Why did this happen now, after many years of bitterness between Jackson and New Line over the Lord of the Rings payouts? I suppose there are many reasons, but I would suppose one very relevant proximate cause would be Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne trying to save their asses in the wake of the very expensive The Golden Compass cratering very badly at the box office ($40 million in two weeks, with a nearly 66% dropoff in the second weekend — not good news when your production budget is $180 million and you’ve sold off the foreign rights). My guess: it’ll work. Well done, Mr. Shaye and Mr. Lynne! And I can’t imagine that Mr. Jackson and friends will not profit handsomely from this either, so well done to him indeed. And all he had to do was wait until New Line needed him more than he needed New Line. Sneaky.

And for all you Tolkien geeks: Congrats, you get another trip to Middle Earth. Mind the dragons.

Oh, and look: The Hobbit Blog. Because it’s never too early for a Hobbit movie blog.

Update, 6pm: The New York Times suggests Jackson’s getting an extra $40 million to settle his differences with New Line. Well, Christmas is coming up. Gotta have spending money. I’ve also heard bruited about that only one of the films will be based on The Hobbit; the other will in some way cover the 60 or so years between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Lord of the Rings. If so, one hopes that the second film won’t in fact be two hours of Bilbo drinking himself silly and toking down on his favorite leaf. Which, while in character for a hobbit, would not make for gripping cinema.

Also, Jackson won’t be directing, just producing. For director, I nominate Guillermo Del Toro.

94 Comments on “The Sound of a Million Elves Celebrating”

  1. I always figured that no pair of people could possibly despise or distrust each other enough to walk away from a pretty-much-guaranteed quarter-to-half-billion-dollar payday. At some point you drag in the high-powered fixers, lock ’em in a very nice room, and say “don’t come out until we can trust each other”.

  2. See, if you were writing fiction for us, you wouldn’t have embarrassed yourself with that comment. Besides, everyone knows it’ll be: The Hobbit II: Golem Does Gotham.

    Wow. Sometimes my utter depravity surprises even me. Yech. I should take my own advice and go back to work.

  3. Brett L:

    If you’re going to go down that road — and you shouldn’t — The Hobbitt II: Gollum Does Gryffindor would be more in line. Who does not yearn for a scene where Smeagol shows Ron Weasley his “precious”?

  4. Bah! The only thing I want to hear from New Line Cinema is that they’ve started production on the Old Man’s War films. The Hobbit is so yesterday, man…

  5. Incidentally, I propose the second movie be called The Hobbit II: Electric Bilboloo.

    That [name of popular movie] II: Electric Boogaloo joke is so 1980’s. The kind of joke that is so old-fashioned that Athena will no doubt be insisting that she’s adopted.

  6. I’m assuming this second film is meant to fill in the gap in time between when Bilbo returns to the Shire and when he gives the ring to Frodo. All props to Peter Jackson, but without a book to work off of he might be leaving himself just enough rope to hang himself with that “sequel”.

  7. Okay, okay. I surrender. It’s obvious who the funny guy is here. And who the professional is. But does the LOTR/Harry Potter pr0n fanfic generate as traffic as Heinlein/Rand. Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

  8. ring

    “Pete? Bob. How you been? Uh, huh. How’s the dead chick thing workin’ out for you. Mm, hmm. Mm, hmm. Hey, listen: funny thing we discovered about that accounting problem… Ha! It’s so embarrassing, but you know those ‘decimal points’ the brainiacs like to use…?”

    aaaand, scene. I have another cent to add, but I’ll have to come back later.

  9. Hugh sez: That [name of popular movie] II: Electric Boogaloo joke is so 1980’s. The kind of joke that is so old-fashioned that Athena will no doubt be insisting that she’s adopted.

    Not if no one explains it to her, and John has been remiss in schooling his daughter on the high caliber hiphop flicks of the 80s!


  10. Some stupid Interweb gremlin swiped my “much” between the “as” and “traffic”. Probably some filthy, thieving hobbit hiding in one of the tubes between me and Whatever. Can’t…resist…”we hates them!”

  11. I had it in my head that Jackson had previously mentioned that he was going to film the Hobbit in two parts. I’m kind of uneasy about the prospect of them filming something that doesn’t have source material in this case.

    Although if someone was going to do it and have a shot at doing it well. . .

  12. Why did this happen now, after many years of bitterness between Jackson and New Line over the Lord of the Rings payouts?

    Because there’s only one unforgivable sin in Hollywood, and that’s losing money. And the trilogy certainly did not do that. Note the part of “all litigation has been settled.” That means that Mr. Jackson is now quite a bit more solvent than he was a few days ago.

  13. IIRC, the Hobbit Sequel was discussed more of a LotR prequel, e.g. some of the backstory stuff that JRR slips in about Gandalf trying to recruit Radagast, Gollum Goes to Mordor, etc. It’s still a big challenge to find a narrative in that (but that didn’t seem to stop the screenplays for Golden Compass, any of the Harry Potters except 1 & 3, etc. etc.).

    In terms of best sequel naming, though, has to be the ad on the radio now for Moviefone about bad sequels: “Groundhog Day II: Groundhog Day”

  14. I, for one, welcome our halfling overlords.

    Seriously, maybe Hollywood can green up the film and get Smaug to cut back on those nasty emissions . . . [Have at it!]

  15. I’m excited. The Hobbit should be easier to film. The story is a more straightforward adventure story with fewer storylines and characters. I think it could be better than LOTR movies.

  16. While there is plenty of material in The Hobbit to fill one decent sized movie, I can think of a few extras that would stretch it out to two. Like what was Gandalf up to when the dwarves and Bilbo were getting lost in Mirkwood? Fighting someone called The Necromancer. Like much of Tolkein, the good stuff happens between the lines.

  17. And what’s WITH the Golden Compass doing badly at the box office? I saw it this weekend, and thought it was great. Now I’m scared we won’t get the two followup movies…

  18. Guys and gals, I’m pretty sure the two movies will be (drum roll):

    Hobbit I: There

    Hobbit II: And Back Again


    Seriously, I’m not sure how you get two movies out of The Hobbit. I’m pretty sure it would be a three to four-hour movie, though, so splitting it into two two-hour movies would make sense.

  19. Tumbleweed:

    You’re probably not going to get the followup movies, sorry. Unless someone other than New Line finances them.

  20. Tumbleweed, was it really? Teh hubbster and I went hogwild buying the tie-in toys – YES, all of them (except for the big alethiometer; we opted for the smaller, digi-daemon version) — because its the kind of toy Rhi would love to play with. Bears in armor! A cool looking witch! People AND animals! She’s an awesome nine-year-old.

    So the plan is to take her to the flick on Thursday after I get off of work, and pray that she actually, you know, LIKES the movie… and that I will too, since I’m the only one of the three who’ve read (most of) the books.

  21. The Hobbit Reloaded

    Yes, I know the reference. But still my first thought after reading the title was, “Bilbo falls off the wagon?” And then: “Yeah. Based on the fanfic novel by Charles Bukowski!”

  22. Spoiler alert!

    Matt Jarpe wrote: “[W]hat was Gandalf up to when the dwarves and Bilbo were getting lost in Mirkwood? Fighting someone called The Necromancer.”

    Gandalf and the White Council attacked The Necromancer’s stronghold at Dol Guldur, which is in southern Mirkwood, forcing The Necromancer to flee. The Necromancer was actually Sauron. He fled to Mordor, rebuilt Barad Dur, and started gearing up for the War of the Ring. There’s also some intrigue involving Saruman initially not wanting to attack Dol Guldur as he was already looking for the One Ring in the area.

  23. Argh! Am I the only one in the world who doesn’t think Peter Jackson walks on water?

    What he did to the narrative of LOTR was unforgivable, and even ignorning the derivative nature of the work, The Two Towers and Return of the King (the movies) did not stand on their own as concise and elegant storoes.

    Now he’s getting a shot at killing The Hobbit. Woe betide…

    Although, in reference to the opinions registered above that there isn’t enough source material between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of LOTR, Mr. Jackson has already shown himself quite capable of just making the crap up, so he shouldn’t have much difficulty there.

    Am I coming across as an ardent Tolkien patriot? Good.

  24. Hmmm…hobbity goodness.

    As serendipity would have it, we’re watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy this week (in lieu of TV reruns).

  25. ::Happydance!::

    The thought of somebody not-Jackson making The Hobbit filled me with dread. And there is nothing but good in more McKellen.

  26. @Imani: AMEN.

    I dont get why they need two movies for The Hobbit.

    Other than the obvious response of, “Because you have to buy TWO TICKETS, Chucklehead.”

  27. Hooray! Two movie adaptations of a novel I’ve loved since childhood that I won’t be seeing!

    The Two Towers sucked so hard I never even bothered seeing The Return Of The King.* Now Jackson’s going to maul The Hobbit? Phooie, I says! And I mean, phooie!

    *How much did I hate it? Here’s how much I hated it: I went to a matinee while on Xmas vacation and had a choice between Towers and Star Trek Nemesis. I walked out of Towers regretting my decision, and I still regret it… even after seeing Nemesis on DVD. That’s right–I hate Jackson’s LOTR movies more than the second-worst Star Trek movie ever made. We hatesss it! We hatesss it foreveressss!


  28. @Matt: So they’re going to stretch it out into two movies based on the strength of a couple of left out action scenes? Pass. That “between the lines” stuff works for a reason.

    I was never a fan of “The Hobbit”, anyway.

  29. Earth has now developed a slight eccentricity in its orbit–J.R.R. Tolkien spinning in his grave.

  30. Don’t worry King.. Tolkien’s spin is more more than made up for by Asimov and Heinlein, not to mention Herbert!

    I’m not a great HOBBIT fan either but I will be there to see them both. Battle of the Five Army’s! Dragons, Under the Misty Mountains… There are just lots of good scenes to see.

  31. Bill Rusham and An Eric: I’m glad I’m not the only one who was severely disappointed with TT and ROTK. Jackson was great for the first movie and a half; after that (what the hell was that $#!+ about Aragorn falling into that river? And Elves at Hornburg?? And the ENTIRE battle of Pelennor Fields being decided by the Dead men of Erech???) it just gets worse and worse. I’ll definitely wait till after the reviews to decide what to do about the Hobbit.

    Drew: Dammit! You beat me to it!

  32. The Hobbit II: The Revenge
    The Hobbit II: The Wrath of Sauron
    The Hobbit II: Attack of the Orcs
    The Hobbit II: Hobbits United

  33. Because I’ve had fast food jingles running through my head all day…

    The Hobbit II: Hobbit Your Way

  34. Bill Ruhsam Says:

    December 18th, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    I agree, the first movie was great while the last two sucked especially the Return of the King. I’m a military history geek and Hollywood’s ‘insta seiges’ pisses me off. Lol, and I missed all the villages and farms it would have taken to support Minas Tirith.

  35. The first 30 minutes of the first movie was great, but it started going off the rails about the time they found Merry and Pippin in the turnip patch and was an outright trainwreck by the time Arwen showed up.

    Key shark jumping moment: ‘Strider’ revealing himself to the hobbits and flubbing his lines.

  36. Does his producing them necessarily make them good? Personally I’ll be much happier when I hear that he’s directing them too.

  37. Peter Jackson has already previously stated that he has plenty of Tolkien material to fill the gap between The Hobbit and LOTR; that is, Tolkien wrote lots of appendices and other notes indicating what was going on both during and after the period of The Hobbit, particularly as it relates to LOTR. So, yes, I think we’ll see a lot more than the simple tale of Bilbo and some dwarfs going off to steal a dragon’s treasure — that will be the main storyline, but not the only one.

    Beyond that, I think Jackson may actually do what Tolkien did not: unify the tone and characters of the two works. If you’ve read LOTR but haven’t read The Hobbit, you may be in for a surprise when you do: The Hobbit was really written as a children’s fairy tale, and you’d have a hard time recognizing, say, Rivendale and the elves there (including Elrond) as being the same place and characters in the two works. ..bruce..

  38. Warning: unbearable geekery follows:

    bfwebster: There’s reason to believe Tolkien didn’t worry about unifying tone as a conscious choice. He saw his Middle-Earth writings as a kind of made-up history or mythology, and so different storytellers would naturally have different tones and agendas. Thus, The Hobbit (being based on the portions of the Red Book Of Westmarch set down by Bilbo Baggins) and The Lord Of The Rings (being based on the portions of the Red Book kept by Frodo Baggins and later Sam Gamgee and his heirs) should be different in tone. So should the tales of Men (e.g. The Children of Hurin) and the tales of Elves (e.g. The Silmarillion).

    A really clever and daring Tolkien-purist would consider shooting The Hobbit in as different a style as possible, but Peter Jackson is neither clever nor a purist, and New Line isn’t paying him to be daring. Ergo, expect more of the same crap.

  39. The Hobbit II: Revenge of the Hobbit, in which Frodo leaves the Shire for college and discovers elf girls. He dresses up in a Sauron mask to woo the maiden of his choice, only to find that all he needed was a footstool, dragon gold and his own sweet self to attract the chicks anyway.

  40. Rusham (& others): “Am I coming across as an ardent Tolkien patriot?”

    Actually, you’re coming across as a nut ;-P.

    I understand the Interwebz™ is a big place, but I can’t believe I didn’t know about the depth of all this ongoing PJ haytin. I knew people were pissed when Tom Bombadil got benched and Arwen got to, you know, talk. But I was under the impression all had been forgiven after people saw Rivendell and Moria up on the big screen (although I personally do admit a moment’s irritation when Gandalf got to introduce the Balrog over Legolas).

    The fact is, there isn’t — hasn’t been, won’t be — a filmmaker alive who could adapt LotR to everyone’s satisfaction. If they could, it would be 40 hours long and only make sense as an HBO mini-series–thus robbing the thing of any sense of spectacle or momentum. You’d need to create a whole new venue for it. EntTube™, maybe.

    It’s a movie, y’know? Not a contemplatie. The different medium demands a different approach to the narrative, which is not always a bad thing (see The Wizard of Oz, The Godfather, Jaws, and The Bridges of Madison County). Did Jackson and Boyens and Walsh do nothing right? In that same Moria scene in the book, Gandalf actually says “Run for it!” I don’t think he did in the movie. He could very well have been made to groan, “I’m gettin’ too old for this shiiiii–.” Didn’t think of that, didja?

    Bottom line: If Peter Jackson had been a purist, he’d also now be pitifully poor.

    Having said all that, I do get where you-all are coming from. I know how I’d feel if anyone but Gaiman and McKean themselves were ever dumb enough to try making a Sandman movie.

  41. I have a question for those who hate the LOTR movies. Are they crap simply because they don’t follow the source material as faithfully as you would like or are the movies just objectively bad story-telling?

    I ask because I’ve never read the books. Yeah, I’ve just lost all my sci-fi cred but I’ve tried 3 times to get through the first book of the trilogy and I kept losing interest. I have the feeling that it gets better but I’m sorry but if nothing is really happening for the first 100 pages I can’t keep going.

  42. I’d echo what Jeff says about different mediums. We’re tricked into expecting great similarity between movies and books because of the way they are marketed. But ultimately it’s no more reasonable than arguing that Verdi’s opera Otello is a terrible bastardization of Shakespeare’s Othello. A movie and a book are no more similar than a symphony and a poem.

    Tolkien fandom has age on its side. But I suspect that if HBO goes through with the “Song of Ice and Fire” series, they’ll discovery that George R.R. Martin fandom is as ruthless and bloody as the works themselves.

  43. As to the second “Hobbit” movie — there is material that Tolkien wrote about the time between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings — its just found in the appendix to the Return of the King and in the last section of the Silmarillion. There’s plenty of gold there to mine for a movie…

  44. Did no one read the appendices in LotR? The Hobbit II with any luck will be Aragorn heading down to burn out the pirates of Harad, it should be SPECTACULAR. It is the beginning of the Aragorn/Arwen love story, and Aragorns decades long quest to reunite the kingdoms of the North and South. Since Jackson completely missed this in the first three movies, maybe he can get it right this time.

    That is what happened between the Hobbit and LotR.

  45. Maybe the Hobbit 2 will actually be a screen adaptation of The Silmarillian, the #2 book all time for lowest read-to-bought ratio (after A Brief History of Time). That way I can actually find out how it ends.

    Also, I think many fans were disappointed in changes that seemed unnecessary, like the Paths of Indiana Jones, Crazy ol’ Denothor, and Farimir the Wuss. That said, I realize that PJ’s LOTR 1-3 was likely the best adaptation of the books that I will see until the next evolution in the medium of filmmaking. I’ll at least go see Hobbit 1.

  46. I’m not sure why anyone’s expecting him to “get it right” this time when he’s not even the director or script-writer. From how movies get typically made, we’ll be lucky if the persons more directly involved have read “The Hobbit”, much less all of “LOTR”, and here we are pulling for the Appendices. Ha ha.

    *shrugs* I thought it was a miracle LOTR came out the way it did — I’m not hopeful about the same thing happening twice, but we’ll see.

    Jeff, you have gotten only a mild taste of a Tolkien purist’s fury. It may be an urban legend but supposedly Liv Tyler took a look at some of the Tolkien sites and was not prepared for the vitriol aimed at her and Jackson for the changes they made to Arwen’s character; poor thing actually cried a bit. It only seems plausible if one participated in any of those boards (as I did).

  47. I don’t want to get too far into it, because I’ve been in this discussion waayy to many times before, but:

    Jackson’s sins against the viewer include a range of visual cliches and cheats. Consider, for instance, his abuse of slow-motion camera work in fights and dramatic death scenes (including a drawn out “death” of Sam at the end of Fellowship, when even the dullest Tolkien-virgin is probably aware that Sean Astin is in all three movies). Another groan-inducing example can be seen in The Two Towers, when the calvary literally rides out of the sunrise to rescue beleaguered heroes. (Forgive me if I short the list there: it’s been five years since I’ve seen any of the LOTR films.)

    Jackson’s inability to trust his actors is also pitiable. E.g., in a scene in The Two Towers, the characters Gandalf and Grima Wormtongue vie for the soul of the aging King Theoden. Gandalf is played by Ian McKellan, a brilliant and critically-acclaimed Shakespearean actor. Wormtongue is played by Brad Dourif, an extraordinarily talented and often-overlooked character actor who has made a specialty of playing sleazy wankers. A talented director would let these two burn a hole in the scene, but Jackson is a props-and-FX kind of guy–sort of like the technically-capable but dramatically-incompetent George Lucas. So, instead of being treated to a spectacular dramatic scene, we get CGI. Lots of CGI.

    I personally–not that my opinion is worth much–don’t think LOTR works as a movie. The fact that I’ve loved Tolkien since my age was in the single digits merely heaps insult on top of injury. It might be hard for a film adaptation to do justice to something as enormous as Tolkien’s world, sure. On the other hand, a project like David Lynch’s disastrous interpretation of Frank Herbert’s Dune at least gets points for being clever and interesting-looking, something I can’t credit Jackson with. (Or maybe it would be more apt to point to Ralph Bakshi’s aborted and unsuccessful adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings, which doesn’t really work, either, but gets points for effort.)

    At this point–partly because I don’t want to get dragged in much deeper than this, I only wanted people to know where I was coming from–I’ll also make a confession. I’m not actually angry about Jackson’s movies: I didn’t bother seeing The Return Of The King and I won’t bother seeing his Hobbit and Hobbit 2–The Quickening. But for some reason it amuses me to stomp around like a Gumby brother shouting “Oo me head!” sorts of things whenever Jackson gets mentioned. Or to call him a “turdmonster” on my blog. I don’t really hate him though. And Bad Taste was vaguely amusing. I sort of despised the LOTR movies I saw, sure, but I’m not really as worked up as I sound.

  48. Maybe the Hobbit 2 will actually be a screen adaptation of The Silmarillion, the #2 book all time for lowest read-to-bought ratio (after A Brief History of Time). That way I can actually find out how it ends.

    Hey, I finished A Brief History of Time. But, uh, I still haven’t finished The Silmarillion….

    Also, I’ve read LOTR 15+ times over the past 40 years, and I loved the movies. No, I don’t agree with all of Jackson’s decisions and choices, but, hey, he actually got the films made, and with outstanding direction, acting, art design and production quality; he released all three as 3+ hour version (and nearly 4 hours in the extended editions); and said films managed to gross just under $3 billion worldwide. That’s an absolutely stunning achievement.

    Unlike John, I happen to prefer the books to the movies — but they’re books, not sacred writ. I also happen to prefer the book Pride and Prejudice to all the various movie adaptations, but I enjoy all the movies as well. ..bruce..

  49. I just rewatched all three movies over the past three nights (I hate the commercials on TNT) and my kids were riveted to the screen with me). It cuts some corners, but I’m willing to give a filmmaker breaks when it comes to adapting such a huge, sprawling book as Lord of the Rings. And yes, I’ve the books several times, and read The Silmarillion through at least twice. I also have “Bored of the Rings” as icing on the cake.

    I’ve heard Jackson was hoping to do the Hobbit. That’s great! But a Hobbit II? I’ll have to check out the appendices again, and the last part of the Silmarillion.

    I’d love to see some grade A animated Bombadil!

  50. Maeg – I really did love it, though I can barely remember the book. I read it when it first came out and really liked it, but for some reason never got around to reading the other two. I can’t tell you how faithful to the book it is, but I really got into it.

    The art direction alone is brilliant. I think the bears could’ve used some more realistic CGI, but they’re good enough. A hyper-realistic talking polar bear would just be kind of jarring, I think.

    The actress playing Lyra is absolutely luminous, and portrays an intelligent, slightly-bratty kid just spot-on, though with some jarring accent issues here and there (which many explain away quite credibly considering her character’s circumstances – it may be intentional for all I know). She’s like a miniature Cate Blanchett, really.

    The casting was simply superb: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Sir Ian McKellan (voice), Christopher Lee (very briefly, but it’s always good to see him still kicking around), Sam Elliott, Kathy Bates (voice), etc.

    Of all the people I’ve talked to who have seen it, everyone loved it, and is puzzled by the reviews. I’ve not actually read any reviews (seen some review titles that made it sound disappointing), so I don’t know what the specific gripes are. *shrug*

    After putting up with Harry Potter for so long, you’d think it would be a breath of fresh (arctic) air, but I guess not. Very odd.

    It ends on a pretty big cliffhanger, obviously, so if #2 and 3 don’t get made, it’s gonna be kind of heartbreaking. It makes me wish they’d gone the LOTR route and just filmed them all back to back, simply to make sure they all got made.

  51. I think it’s obvious why the movie version of the Golden Compass didn’t work out too well.

    All the religious extremists boycotted the movie and all the other people who would have otherwise seen the movie because they enjoyed the books were turned off by the studio’s pandering to the religious extremists.

    It’s rather ironic that by taking out all the ‘good’ parts to appeal to those people who would have never watched it anyway, they drove away their target audience.

    This is assuming that the movie didn’t just suck. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t seen it.

  52. I’ve read both A Brief History of Time and The Simarillion through to the end. Liked the first, said ‘eh’ to the second. The Simarillion stops and has no end because it has no central plot, as such. It’s history. I only read (first) the Hobbit and (then) LOTR because I was laid up in an Air Force hospital and had read just about every other book in it’s small library (it was 1965). I didn’t like The Hobbit that much, but on re-reading it got a little better. I liked LOTR quite a lot, but I tend to agree with Scalzi: it’s a very realized world with an interesting story. It’s not great literature. I re-read it about every 5 or so years, though.
    My wife and I (she’s a BIG LOTR fan) enjoyed the movies a lot and got the editor’s cut DVD and really like the added material.

    I don’t see why you can’t enjoy both the books and the movie. And, anyway, LOTR was originally supposed to be one big, honkin’ long book anyway. The publisher forced it into three, is my understanding.

  53. Peter Jackson side, just seeing what the Weta Workshop people cook up will be worth it. Quibble about plot, dialogue, acting, Tom Bombadil, or what have you. That’s fine. But I don’t hear anyone dissing Weta’s work, or the work of the entire legion of other artists and craftsmen.

    “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

    “It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats–the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill–The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it–and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the lefthand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

    The images in the Jackson films were so incredibly right, that was all I needed to enjoy them. They may not have been 100% accurate to the descriptions in the books, but they captured the essence of the words as actual artifacts.

  54. Vincent— the critiques I saw were the typical ones for compressing a book into a movie: the depth is lost, there are too many plotlines, etc. etc. Too many directions at once and no focus, that kind of thing.

    As for me, I don’t go to the movie theater any more. Paying Hollywood prices (movie prices set statewide!) for a suboptimal experience in a dingy theater* seems really silly when I can pick up the DVD for the cost of two tickets. Though I did see Serenity twice in the theater, because I had to. :)

    *I had really good moviegoing experiences in Denver; I have no idea why California can’t get it right.

  55. Back when Worldcon was in Boston I had the great idea to walk up behind Charlie Stross (wearing full bushy black beard and long crazy hair in those days) and shout “Hey, it’s Peter Jackson.” Then watch him try to claw his way free from a mob of fans. But I thought that would be too mean.

    Now it wouldn’t work. Not only has Charlie exposed his scalp, but he’s much too famous to get mistaken for someone else at a con.

  56. Those who have not seen PJs movie Dead/Alive (aka Braindead) really should see it. It comes in two versions, of which the unrated version is far better. There is nothing else quite like it.

  57. Major geek alert – I read all the books years ago and, incredibly, the memory didn’t fade with my acne.

    #1 thing I hated about Jackson’s ROTK: When the Lord of the Nazgul knocks Gandalf to the ground and it looks like curtains for the White Wizard. What’s the point of dying and getting reborn if you can be killed again by some invisible thugling on a stinky pterodactyl? In the book, Gandalf is never shown to be the weaker of the two – the showdown is cut short by the appearance of the Rohirrim. But, the LON is just a Numenorean man corrupted by the power of one of the nine rings, while Gandalf is a Maia. I always assumed Gandalf would have won the battle when push came to shove.

  58. If so, one hopes that the second film won’t in fact be two hours of Bilbo drinking himself silly and toking down on his favorite leaf.

    Come to think of it, what did Bilbo do with his time between The Hobbit and FotR? He didn’t work, did he?

  59. I’m with the others who have read the books at least a dozen times, and loved the movies, even if I disagreed with some of the changes made, not just to transfer to the story to the medium, but editorial choices as well. And I’ve also read “The Silmarillion” and “The Children of Hurin,” as well as much of the other materials based upon notes left behind.

    If nothing else, the designers of the sets, props and costumes (not to mention Howard Shore’s beautiful music) have given everything a depth that adds to my imagination.

    Today’s my birthday (Precious), and I consider this news a birthday present. I’m hoping for the scene in which Sauron offers the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain an ultimatum, and the battle which ensues when they refuse. I’m sure there will be more backstory on Aragorn, including the scene mentioned in “The Two Towers,” when he rides off to war with Theoden’s father when Theoden is a boy, etc.

    As mentioned above, Tolkien saw his works as ‘real’ accounts from another history. “The Hobbit” is a kind of Victorian traveller’s tale; “The Lord of the Rings” is a novel about a war; “The Silmarillion” is like a written account of an oral tale like “The Odyssey.” You can look at the changes made for the films the same way you can watch HBO’s “Rome” and either say, “Hey, that person died two years before that event!” or “They didn’t have South American parrots for sale in Classical Rome!” etc. , or you can say, “Wow. Great production values, sets, costumes, acting, etc.” I choose the latter.

    Plus- I still keep coming back to what the films would have looked like if Hollywood had made them. Sam would have been a “street-wise, African-American” Hobbit, and Aragorn would have either been played by Keanu Reeves or Chuck Norris.

  60. The Hobbit II: Dead Man’s Ring

    I am very happy to have read the news of The Hobbit being made into film, and Peter Jackson producing the films, for I loved the Lord of The Rings (mostly). But all of your great comments have brought up some of the misgivings that I had with The Two Towers and Return of the King in particular.

    Fellowship: I sorely missed the Tom Bombadill scenes, but even more so Fog on the Barrow Downs. It gave an introduction to the evil kings (who later became the ringwraiths? It’s been awhile since I read the books) and it is where the hobbits received their swords and it had great dramatic tension. I would have loved to seen that on screen.
    Galadriel seemed more creepy and haughty than sad and lovely in Fellowship. Thankfully the extended version had many more scenes in Lothlorien that redeemed her character for me.
    Two Towers: I hated that movie in the theater. Again, the extended version of this film was much better, more cohesive and detailed and is the only version I watch. Still… hated the dueling for Theoden by Gandalf and Saruman (Wormtongue). It was so cheesy! I agree with An Eric that it could have been such a great dramatic scene instead of all CGI. In the rest of that movie, Theoden seems like a tired, complaining old man sick of war. I’m glad that at least he had the chance to grow as a character in Return of the King, whereas Faramir’s character never improved.
    Which brings me to the Return of the King. Thankfully Peter Jackson made Theoden the warrior hero (that he was all along), and his stirring speech to the Riders in the Pelannor Fields is one of my favorite scenes in that movie. I watched the entire movie hoping that PJ would do the same for Gondor. However, Denethor was insane and power-mad, Faramir was weak, and the soldiers of Minis Tirith seemed like cowards in comparison to the Rohirrim. And burning Denethor running a mile to his death! Aarggh!
    There is little sublety to the scenes! I know they are action flicks, but there were so many missed opportunities for great drama. Well, at least the films were beautifully shot and the musical score and art direction were brilliant. Most of the actors did very well with what they were given, and especially shone when they were given Tolkien’s actual words to speak. Let’s hope PJ “sticks to the script” better in these next two movies. Otherwise it could become
    The Hobbit II: The Sequel Menace

  61. @ Buck: “Aragorn would have … been played by … Chuck Norris”

    Reforged swords don’t kill Dark Lords. Aragorn kills Dark Lords.

    The three leading causes of death in Middle Earth are 1) Exploding volcanoes, 2) Aragorn, 3) Orc armies

    Valinor is beyond the West because it’s afraid to share a hemishpere with Aragorn.

  62. It would’ve been very hard to haveTom Bombaldil and keep the general atmosphere of the films intact. I myself hated the character and thought him to be pointless comic relief when I originally read the books in middle school – it was only after learning more about Tolkien and his folk sources that I was able to appreciate him for what he was.

    But you forgot to mention the scouring of the Shire, which had no reason to be left out.

    Anyway, if any other author were involved, I would balk at the thought of a movie director ‘writing’ a whole new sequel. However, being that this is Tolkien we’re talking about, he probably left behind enough notes and historical sketches that what took place during those years is more or less set in stone, and Jackson won’t have do much original writing in terms of major plot events. It’ll just be a matter of connecting the dots, getting from point A to point B, and managing not to screw up the characterization.

  63. You can tell if a person is a geek or not by their inability to resist making jokes based on the greatest movie title ever, “Breakin’ Two: Electric Boogaloo”. Or if they find such jokes amusing.

  64. I know that a Hobbit is not a Man, but the posthumous collaboration title I flashed on was:

    “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison and Harlan Ellison.

    Not to be confused with “The Invisible Man” by H.G. Wells and Osama bin Laden. Say, you with the turban and the beard dyed black, what’s that dragon horde doing in your cave?

    In any case, I’ll wait for Silmarillion: The Musical, starring Johnny Depp as Melkor. This is, of course, an adaptation of Bilbo’s three-volume “Translations from the Elvish”, which he wrote while at Rivendell.

  65. The passion for Tolkein comes through with all the comments here. I cannot resist adding my own as well.

    I’ve read LoTR, and the Hobbit more times than I can count. I’ve also read the Silmarillion several times, as well as most of the follow on Books of Lost Tales. I’ve yet to read Children of Hurin.

    I love the books, and for the most part love the movies. I understand the difficulties of book adaptation to movies. My own personal quibbles with PJ’s changes come down to two characters and their decisions in the movies.

    1st, Faramir: why the hell did PJ make Faramir decide to take the ring to Minas Tirith. It weakened the character to no end. The whole point of meeting Faramir was to show that the strength of Men resided in him and not in his brother when he made the opposite choice that Boromir made. (to keep the ring for Minas Tirith) Ugh!

    2nd, Treebeard: why the hell did PJ make Treebeard say ‘this is not my war’, the whole point of the Ents and the Entmoot was to show how the world rose up as one together to fight the evil of Saruman/Sauron.

    Those two changes are the only ones that I excoriate PJ for, completely changed the tone of the two characters, and was utterly unneccessary as he made them both flip flop and change their minds. Weak to no end.

    I’m still excited about The Hobbit though, seeing Weta’s take on Smaug alone will be worth the ticket price!

  66. “Jeff Hentosz Says:

    December 18th, 2007 at 6:40 pm
    Rusham (& others): “Am I coming across as an ardent Tolkien patriot?”

    Actually, you’re coming across as a nut ;-P.

    I understand the Interwebz™ is a big place, but I can’t believe I didn’t know about the depth of all this ongoing PJ haytin…”

    I am not a LOTR Movie-Hater. Nor do I think that Peter Jackson did a terrible job. In fact, right up until the Elves showed up at Helm’s Deep I was on board that PJ had done such a bang up job of dropping unnecessary (for the movie) material and re-weaving the necessary plot lines back into the movie that I was going to sell my first born so I could send PJ a gratuity. Alas, the Elves popped in to save Hornburgh; Arwen started dying because…why?; Faramir turned into a fallen Gondorian, rather than a reborn Numenorean; the list goes on. These story changes detracted from the movie for those of us who are Tolkien fans.

    Then there is the question: “Does LOTR hold up on it’s own as a three-part movie, ignoring the Books?” My answer is, decidedly, no. Fellowship excepted, the narrative makes numerous assumptions and jumps that do not make sense unless you’ve already been familiarized with the story of the novels.

    If I had my druthers, the Hobbit and Hobbit II would be, as mentioned above, the story of Bilbo, Aragorn, and Gandalf, but these characters NEVER MEET, except for the brief time that Gandalf escorts Bilbo and the Dwarves from Hobbinton to Beorn, and then at the Battle of Five Armies. So, in order to make two movies that will appeal to standard audiences, they’re going to have to do some mishing and mashing. I’m not looking forward to it.

    But I’ll still shell out my $9 US to go see the movies. Call me an addict.

  67. Think of the savings! Goblins, dwarves and hobbits are all about the same height so less special effects when they are on screen. More dwarves! Woo hoo! Lets have some dwarves who are not the comic relief as well.

  68. The creepy atmospherics as the Witchking and his army are leaving Minas Morgul make up for a host of sins, but I find a cannot forgive the scene in which Denethor, while on fire runs something like the length of two football fields before falling off the very end of the platform high above Minas Tirith.

    That was just dumb, dumb, dumb, bad moviemaking that wrenched me right out of the narrative and had me going WTF for the next 10 minutes.

  69. I’ll throw in with those who didn’t bother to watch the 3rd LOTR because the idea of 3 more hours of “pretty” wasn’t worth the wooden acting forced by the focus on the CGI. Call it the Lucas Principle. Too much focus on “hitting their marks” for the visual setup destroys actors’ ability to act. So the real actors suck, whilst the CGI actors (I’m talking about Golem and the new Yoda here. Muppets don’t count.) rock.

  70. 70: Buck I’m hoping for the scene in which Sauron offers the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain an ultimatum, and the battle which ensues when they refuse.

    Are you being tongue in cheek here about rewrites? Sauron was not there, IIRC.

    69: Johan Larson
    Come to think of it, what did Bilbo do with his time between The Hobbit and FotR? He didn’t work, did he?

    Certainly not! I read it as Bilbo was one of the bottom tier of the idle rich. He owned enough land that the rents allowed him to live in pleasant comfort but not gratuitous luxury.

    Of course, after he came back with all that gold from Smaug’s hoard, he was even more financially secure.

    He chose to be the scholarly type of idle rich guy, and spent all his time reading and translating books from furrin parts. Proof of the old saw, “Reading rots the mind”.


    Digressing, I’ve heard people always saying that the Shire makes no sense economically, as one of those received truths. I don’t see it. The Shire exports luxury goods like wine and pipeweed, plus charging tolls or providing services to any travelers passing through. They buy manufactured goods from the dwarves who send caravans through the Shire, again IIRC.

    Of course, having free protection from the Rangers does with the military budget.

  71. Regarding comment #4 – Scalzi, you’re a sick bastard. I’m not buying any more of your books


  72. …don’t do it…don’t do it…don’t do it…



    God, I’m a dork.

  73. I need to defend myself from, well, my own comment. I DID read A Brief History of Time, but did NOT finish the Silmarillian. Understandable, really, given that Hawkings’ book was a bit more action-packed.

  74. “Also, Jackson won’t be directing, just producing. For director, I nominate Guillermo Del Toro.”


    Dear Santa, that is what I want for Xmas.
    P.S. Maybe a pony, too? (Or maybe I wasn’t that good.)

  75. Come to think of it, what did Bilbo do with his time between The Hobbit and FotR? He didn’t work, did he?

    You obviously missed his cinematic career with young sidekick Traci Lords, under the screen name of George Spelvin. But those films are now illegal….

  76. You mean that was Bilbo Baggins in such classics as One Thing To Rule Them, Sting (In My Pants), The Preciiousss, Mirk Wood and Under Misty’s Mountains? That guy was huge! I mean talented. Not that I’ve ever seen any of those… I just heard about them from… a… friend… a friend of my uncle. Yeah.

  77. Damn, I stay away from Scalzi for a few days and I miss an LOTR brawl. I live a very sad life.

    I was given the Hobbit and the original LOTR trilogy in their late 60s/early 70s tripped out covers by my older cousins. They had the look of drug dealers as I recall, offering that addictive first hit to a suggestible 13-year-old. Cruel bastards. I reread the whole thing countless times after that – and lord knows how many times I just pick it off the shelf to read a favorite chapter.
    The movies? Loved ’em. I can live with the changes in the story. It’s an adaptation people, not nearly as ruinous as some Tolkien freaks claim it is and far far better than we had a right to expect. My wife HATES fantasy with the heat of a thousand Balrogs. And I reckon she has watched FOTR at least a hundred times. She fell for that world (and for several attractive male actors) and has never gotten out of it. And come on, a genre picture that actually kicked Oscar’s ass! We should be thanking our geek gods for Peter Jackson. I am waiting for this like I used to jones for every new Led Zeppelin album. Bring.It.On.

  78. Capt. Button:

    Sauron’s ultimatum was delivered by his minions, not in person (especially since that that point, he has no real corporeal form).

  79. Oh! I can’t believe I forgot about What Have I Got In My Pocket?

    Yep, that was him! He died his hair for many of them, and sometimes wore sunglasses.

    But he didn’t just work in the industry as an actor. No, he took care of his people, and went on to directing and producing. He brought in some of the old gang for that Snow White thing, and he was responsible for those gay films, The Beorn Identity and The Beorn Supremacy. (Sadly The Beorn Ultimatum was never finished because of eagle difficulties.) And he produced the entire Wood-Elf series, as well as the derivitave Bard the Bowman Does LickTown. But his one attempt at mainstreaming, Romancing the Arkenstone, did poor box office and has never been re-released.

  80. I’m just glad that it didn’t get turned over to Tom Cruise and John Travolta to use the alternate source material Dianelfics by Elrond Hubbard.

    (I’ve used this before in an old forum, but it’s too painful to be allowed to die.)

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