Next week the holiday movie onslaught really begins. But those dirty Hobbitses had to sneak in just a little early to take a certain little Precious. It’s time to head back to Middle Earth.

Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but rather predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at what This Rotten Week has to offer.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Look J.R.R. Tolkien is no dummy. He knows how to produce a few sheckles. Make a Benjamin or two (or 29.2 billion of them to be exact from three little movies). He sees the current Hollywood landscape and knows a simple fact about how the movie studios like to roll. It’s all sequels, prequels, reboots and remakes these days. So what does the guy do? Heads over to his iMac and is all like, “It’s too early to roll that Occupy Mordor story back, and the whole Aragorn/Arwen romcom angle needs a bit more polishing before it sees the light of day. You know who we could get some miles out of from those first movies? Bilbo. Bilbo f#$%ing Baggins is going to be my retirement fund. He could like, have an adventure or something.” And a few years later, with the help of Peter Jackson and a whole host of CGI we’re headed back to the Shire because hey, it’s Hollywood. And Tolkien for sure knows where that bread is buttered.

Yeah, yeah, yeah LotR fanatics, I get it, this is the first book, actually published seventeen years before Fellowship of the Ring. But having it on hand as source material, prequel style, for a movie fits in perfectly with what Hollywood already loves (can’t help itself from) doing. But as is the case for many attempts at over-franchising certain works, The Hobbit may prove to be a case of diminishing returns (relative to its big screen predecessor) and may not live up to the majesty of Peter Jackson’s trilogy.

Jackson did something spectacular with those three movies (averaging 94% on the Tomatometer) creating an epic movie franchise appealing to the mainstream/ critical crowd and even (mostly) appeasing the hardcore Tolkien-ites. Then he went off and did King Kong (84%) and The Lovely Bones (32%). Now he’s back with another trilogy (for just one book!) looking to recapture some of that Middle Earth magic.

Early opinions are positive, if not spectacular. It’s at 75% after about thirty reviews with Cinema Blend’s Katey Rich weighing in with four stars but a few concerns as well. I see the score dropping over the course of the week for a few reasons, two of of which Katey mentions in her review. One: critics will undoubtedly compare it to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Fairness of that inevitability aside, it will happen and those wanting Jackson’s originals will most likely be disappointed. Two: its length. This is something cropping up in many reviews. At almost three hours, it may be a slog for some, especially knowing it is only the first of three.

So Tolkien’s money grab aside, I am going to go out on a limb (sort of) here and predict a fairly sizable dip in score over the course of the week. Hollywood has to learn it can’t all be about the prequels. The Rotten Watch for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is 64%.

Will The Hobbit get better or worse reviews than the Lord of the Rings movies?

Recapping last week:

It’s easy to predict sh#$tty. It’s a little more difficult to predict epic, stinking, pile of historically awful garbage. The two aren’t that far apart, but the prediction is just a little harder. There in lies Playing for Keeps (Predicted: 18% Actual: 2%), a movie I slammed last week as looking like a formulaic embarrassment for everyone involved. Knowing it would suck wasn’t tough. Predicting 2% is something else entirely. But that’s what happens when you get one good review out of fifty-seven. And though Leonard Maltin saw fit to give it what no other critic could conceive doing, a thumbs up, it came as close to zero percent as a movie can get. So no, I don’t consider this a win in the prediction game, but the conceit was there. I’m not feeling too terrible about it.

Next week we go on a guilt trip, jack reaches, monsters come in 3D, and everyone turns forty. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!

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