Is A Third Hobbit Movie A Creative Risk Or A Cash Grab?
While at Comic Con a rumor was sparked that director Peter Jackson was considering the possibility of a third Hobbit movie and today that news was confirmed by Jackson himself. Though we still donít know very much about the project, there has been plenty of uproar about the announcement, as many have said that itís just a lame attempt at making more money by exploiting a franchise, while others have argued that this is the director who gave us The Lord of the Rings trilogy and that we should trust what heís doing.
So, as we do whenever a situation like this one unfolds, we decided to have a great debate about the subject. Katey and Eric had a quick chat this afternoon to discuss the pros and cons of a third Hobbit movie, and what it really means to both the studio and audiences. Check it out!
KATEY:So, this news that there will be three Hobbit movies isn't a surprise-- there's been rumors he was considering it for weeks. But I honestly didn't think he'd go through with it. Were you at least a little surprised too?
ERIC: I was, but mostly just from a content standpoint. The Lord of the Rings books are massive and could have easily been made into six movies themselves, but The Hobbit really is a simple, short story. We did go in knowing that Jackson would be using material from the appendices in order to fill out the story and make it enough for two books, but this is way more than anticipated.
KATEY: And it's kind of super, crazy nerdy-- only the real Tolkien fanatics have any idea what the Silmarillion is, and now we're getting a whole blockbuster movie out of it? Revenge of the nerds, indeed.
ERIC: Well, actually that's not the case. The Silmarillion is something completely different, and, most importantly, still owned by the Tolkien estate, which actually is really not happy with the movies that Jackson made. I'm no expert on the whole matter, but I believe that he would be working on the appendices just from The Hobbit, which weren't terribly detailed, so Jackson, Boyens and Walsh have to stretch them out.
KATEY: Is it possible that's even nerdier than the Silmarillion?
ERIC: It's entirely possible.
KATEY: So, while respecting the right of Jackson to totally own the cinematic world of Middle Earth, I can't help but thinking of that Bilbo quote from the first Hobbit: "Sort of stretched, like... butter scraped over too much bread." How can there possibly be enough content to make this worthwhile?
ERIC: It's a hard question to answer because at this point we don't know how the movies are going to be split up yet and how much of the original book will be in each film. For all we know the third one could go beyond the book entirely. No matter which way you cut it, though, I think you are dealing with a level of risk.
KATEY: It seems pretty likely it will have extra content-- but also that Jackson and company will be filling in a lot of gaps, just for the sake of having another movie to make. Which brings me to the big question: what's the reason to do this beyond money?
ERIC: Well, I think money is an obvious motivator (this is still Hollywood we're talking about), if we want to take an optimist point of view here it could very well be that Jackson just fell in love with Middle Earth all over again and isn't ready to let it go. Hell, this entire thing could be spurred by Jackson getting a brilliant idea for a third movie and just running with it. There's also the fact there is some risk here. The Hobbit is very different in tone from The Lord of the Rings, and that could affect audiences (not to mention the question of it standing up to critics). They're going to have to do a lot of work both on the production side and on the money side to make a third movie happen.
KATEY: And obvious Warner Bros. and New Line have decided the financial investment is worth it-- which kind of brings me back to the cynical point of view. Very few movies are made without the goal of making money, period, but the idea of stretching a final installment of a story like this has been happening a lot lately, and it's always for money reasons.
ERIC: That's very true. Twilight, Harry Potter and Hunger Games kind of ruined it for everybody else.
KATEY: Yes, Peter Jackson has more creative control than David Yates did on Harry Potter, or Bill Condon did on Twilight. But studios decide to split up movies to make twice the profits, and you can't assume that the Hobbit isn't doing the same thing for at least similar reasons. Even if Peter Jackson really does just want to keep making Hobbit movies, you know there was studio pressure to do this anyway. He might have talked himself into wanting to do it, the same way he talked himself into making The Hobbit to begin with. He tried to escape, then he made the awful The Lovely Bones, now he's trapped in this beautiful prison of his own making.
ERIC: The real big question here could be who came up with the idea of a third Hobbit movie first, Jackson or the studio?
KATEY: I'm guessing it's a chicken and egg scenario-- both sides knew it would be profitable and possible, so who said it first is kind of irrelevant. The thing is, we really can't judge if this is a good idea or not until we see at least the first Hobbit movie and know what we're working with. But the LOTR films were so note-perfect as a trilogy, as Tolkien intended, that I'm nervous about fiddling with what he did.
ERIC: Totally agreed. But for now I do truly trust the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to do right by The Hobbit.
KATEY: The addition of a third Hobbit movie doesn't give you even a little pit in your stomach? You're not even a little cynical about this?
ERIC: Don't get me wrong, there's the potential for this all to go horribly, horribly wrong and I would be absolutely devastated to see the legacy of the franchise ruined. But at this stage there are still so many unanswered questions that it's hard to get your head around completely. That could very well change as more details about the project emerge.
KATEY: You're such an optimist. The ongoing trend of splitting stories in half is really depressing to me in so many ways.
ERIC: But if you're upset about that then you should have been upset that The Hobbit was being made as two movies in the first place.
KATEY: That's true! Though I always thought they were going to do one movie as the Hobbit, and a second one with the bridge story from Hobbit to LOTR. Which seemed sketchy but fine. Now it seems like they're pushing their luck.
ERIC: Well, that could very well be the plan with the third movie.
KATEY: Eh. This is the kind of stuff that just turns me into one of those awful "I prefer arthouse films!" people. Because honestly, knowing you're going to see an entire story told well in a single movie is a nice thing. So when do you think we can know if this gamble is worth it? Only when the movie comes out, or before then?
ERIC: Definitely not until we've seen the first movie, but probably more accurately not until the second movie has come out. If the second film has a truly satisfying conclusion, that could end up really hurting part three. But I'm sure we'll have plenty more great debates about that between now and then.
KATEY:† I look forward to them!
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