I may have mentioned that I’m a fan of The Lord of the Rings (and by fan I mean that I’m obsessed with it), which means that I’m incredibly excited for the new movie version of The Hobbit. I would have given almost anything to have been in Hall H for The Hobbit panel at Comic-Con (I certainly would have been one of those fans who camped out over night – who received a surprise visit from Sir Ian McKellan). The lucky people at this year’s Con got a 12 and a half minute viewing of footage, along with the chance to see some of my favorite people answer questions. But Peter Jackson wouldn’t leave the rest of us poor shlubs who couldn’t make it to San Diego hanging. He’s just uploaded the latest production blog (the 8th one so far) which premiered in Hall H. Jackson also added some extra stuff showing the cast, which included Sir Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, and Elijah Wood, backstage at Comic-Con. There has been a lot of talk about what’s next for The Hobbit as it moves into post-production. Lucky for you I love searching through every article that mentions the words “peter jackson” or “hobbits” in it. Here is where you can enjoy the fruits of my labor.
The New Production Blog
There’s not a lot that they can show us in the way of footage in this new blog, due to the fact that they are working on the second movie (not out until 2013). But we are given some cool looks at the sets and stuff from the last 5 days of principal photography. We are shown Radagast the Brown’s house, and we meet Sylvester McCoy who is playing the bird loving wizard. Beorn’s house (the guy who can turn into a giant black bear) is also on display, along with the City of Dale (the city that was abandoned when the dragon Smaug took over the Lonely Mountain). The most exciting though, is seeing Lee Pace as King Thranduil (the Elven King of Mirkwood) and Orlando Bloom’s Legolas. At the end of the video Peter Jackson promises more blogs as post-production begins. I’m so glad that fans are being kept in the loop as things progress – it certainly makes me more excited to see the movie after seeing all these blogs. Here’s the latest video if you want to check it out for yourself:
The Hobbit: Two Movies or Three?
By now we’re all aware of the two Hobbit movies that are due to be released: An Unexpected Journey which will premiere December 14th, and There and Back Again which will be released December 13th, 2013. But at Comic-Con Peter Jackson started dropping hints that there may be enough source material to fill a whole other movie. In addition to using The Hobbit, Jackson has been pulling things from the 125 pages pf appendices at the end of Return of the King that give more details about the original tale. Of course the movie will only happen if the studio agrees to finance another installment, which will include a couple more weeks of shooting. According to Peter Jackson (as reported by HitFix):
“We’ve been certainly talking to the studio about some of the material we can’t film. And we’ve been asking them if we can do a bit more filming next year. Which I don’t know what would come of that, whether that would be extended additions or not. But those discussions are ongoing [...] I’d like to shoot a bunch more material that we can’t shoot. There’s so much good stuff in the appendices that we haven’t been able to squeeze into these movies. That’s a discussion that we’re having.”
One of the added scenes has been rumored for a while, and it involves where Gandalf goes when he leaves the dwarf party for several chapters. In the book he mentions that he and his wizard buddies got together to take care of a Necromancer from Mirkwood, and we find out later that the evil he drove out simply moves on down to Mordor (hint, hint – he uses a lot of contact solution). But on the big screen we may actually get to see that battle.
While seeing Gandalf kick some serious evil ass excites me, I don’t know how many new scenes the original story really needs. As a proud owner of the extended Lord of the Rings movies, the prospect of sitting down for a four hour movie (plus a few hours of extras) doesn’t really daunt me. But for one book to equal three movies? That seems to be stretching a little bit. I mean, each of the Lord of the Rings books amounted to one movie. As much as I love the series, will even die hard fans feel that it’s gone on too long? I suppose that’s a question that doesn’t need to be asked until a third movie is confirmed. But the fact that the idea is in the air, and that the studios stand a chance to make even more money on the series, probably means that we will be seeing three Hobbits instead of two. I think I would be just as happy finally buying a Blu-ray player so I can play the extra special extended editions for The Hobbit. You can see more on the pros and cons about a third Hobbit movie here.
The lesser known prequel to The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion is a collection of unfinished narratives written by J.R.R Tolkien. It describes how Middle-Earth and the people in it (such as the Númenor – aka Aragorn’s ancestors) came into being. Fans often wonder if Peter Jackson will complete the whole she-bang and bring The Silmarillion to the big screen. After being asked about it, Jackson responded that it probably wouldn’t be happening any time soon. The Silmarillion was published after the beloved author’s death and was edited by Tolkien’s son Christopher. That means that the Tolkien estate still owns the rights. In Jackson’s words (from Movieline), “It’s not owned by Warner Bros. or MGM — and I don’t think the Tolkien estate are very fond of these movies, so I wouldn’t expect to see The Silmarillion any time soon.” I don’t know why the heck the Tolkien estate wouldn’t be over the moon about the movies (I certainly am), but whatever. I suppose we’ll just have to be content with the written word.
The 24 Frames Per Second Footage
There has been a lot of talk about the new higher frame rate that The Hobbit will be presented in. That pesky 48 frames per second (as opposed to the standard 24), caused an uproar when 10 minutes of it was presented at CinemaCon. People were whining that it looked too life-like and took you out of the fantasy world. I’m holding out judgement until I can check it out myself, but in my opinion making a fantasy movie look like it’s real life isn’t ever going to be a bad thing. But the 12 minutes of footage that was shown at Comic-Con was not in the higher frame rate, and for good reason. Peter Jackson insisted (via Deadline), “nobody was commenting on the footage, good or bad. Everyone had opinions about the 48 frames. You had the film purists saying, this doesn’t look like cinema. … Those negative comments were getting picked up and spun around the world by all the bloggers. I didn’t want to risk that at Comic-Con. I wanted people to look at the actors, at the performance, the story, and I didn’t want Comic-Con stories to be all about 48 frames.” I have to say, I whole-heartedly agree. I must have read hundreds of detailed descriptions of every second of the Comic-Con footage, but I don’t even remember what was shown at CinemaCon – only that people were pissed about it. Jackson is probably right, we need to see the whole film in order to truly experience the new medium. If it’s truly as immersive and exciting as Pete promises, then there’s nothing we need to worry about.
The Tone of the Film
There’s been a lot of discussion on how serious the film will be when compared to the novel. In my humble opinion (which seems to be shared by a lot of people), The Hobbit is just more fun than The Lord of the Rings. It’s not some doom laden journey to hell and back to get rid of evil, it’s a quest to kill a dragon and win treasure. But considering the same director is doing both stories, there could be a question of whether the films fit together. As Peter Jackson puts it (via Moviefanatic.com), “I don’t want to make a children’s story to go into The Lord of the Rings so we are providing a balance.” A “balance” could mean a lot of different things, but I’m assuming he’s talking about making The Hobbit less of an adventure story and more like a foreshadowing prequel of harsher things to come. But that doesn’t have to spell out the removal of the fun-loving nature of the book. Jackson continues to explain by saying, “A lot of the comedy and the charm comes from the characters. You’re dealing with Bilbo Baggins who is a bit more reluctant to go on an adventure than Frodo was… and with Dwarves who have a personality and camaraderie all of their own. There’s a lot of humor. But, there are still some serious themes involved.” My hope is that they don’t go too far trying to add drama, but just let The Hobbit be it’s own special brand of Tolkien. If the production blogs are any indication, they are going to be a lot of fun to watch regardless of how many dark powers of Mirkwood Peter Jackson wants to add in.
Some Quotes from the Cast
Martin Freeman seems to be the perfect Bilbo Baggins. I loved him in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Love Actually, and with every word out of his mouth he proves that he may actually be the humble hobbit. Here’s Freeman’s take on the role (found on the LA Times Hero Complex site), “I’m a big believer of knowing what play you’re in, and in this play, I have to be the eyes and ears of the audience, because I’m the nearest thing to a member of the audience in this film. We all have fear. We all have reservations. We all have places that we’re scared to go, whether they’re internal or external.” I haven’t even seen the film and I already love him as Bilbo. Hopefully he can live up to my expectations.
Now, I have to leave you with this quote from Andy Serkis on the Comic-Con panel which I find hilarious. When he was asked to do the Gollum voice for the crowd he responded with this, “for fuck’s sake, do I have to? You said you weren’t going to whore yourself, you said it! Well if you don’t in front of six thousand five hundred fucking people, what are you gonna do Precious?” I got that straight from the youtube video of the Comic-Con panel, and it makes me laugh every time I think about it. I love Andy Serkis. And Martin Freeman. And Sir Ian McKellan. And Peter Jackson. I SERIOUSLY CAN NOT WAIT FOR THESE MOVIES!
What do you guys think of the new production blog? Are you as excited as I am for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?