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When asked during his web chat this weekend if J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher Tolkien was going to give the upcoming movie version of The Hobbit his blessing, Peter Jackson diplomatically replied: “Christopher Tolkien did not wish to be involved in the LOTR movies and I would assume his feelings are the same with these two films.” Well it’s a lot more than assumption. In fact, not only does he not wish to be involved, he’s now doing everything in his power to stop The Hobbit movie from being made… again.
You see, Christopher Tolkien has been against his father's books being made into movies since the very beginning. He hates the idea of them being made into movies in general, and he’s been fighting Peter Jackson and the half-dozen other people who own pieces and parts of the movie rights every single step of the way. Not because he doesn’t like what Jackson is doing, he simply hates Hollywood. Ironically, he doesn’t hate making cash-in sequels to his father's books, using pieces of his notes which were never intended to be published. Funny how that works.
But Christopher Tolkien is 83, frequently described as cranky, and presumably he remembers a time when movies didn’t exist. He seems to have preferred it better that way because the TimesOnline reports that he’ll try to get a judge to halt the production of The Hobbit next week. At issue is the same thing that always seems to be at issue whenever the Lord of the Rings franchise goes to court. He says New Line Cinema owes him money. Judging by New Line’s track record, that may indeed be true. Judging from Christopher Tolkien’s track record, that’s probably not the reason he’s doing this. He doesn’t care about the money as much as he simply hates movies. Oddly enough, the TimesOnline article mentions that he’s likely never even seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies. You’d think even if he was totally against them, he’d at least peek at the back of one of the DVD covers. He is a Tolkien after all. However wrongheaded he may be, his motives are pure… in their own way.
At the end of the day the guy is just trying to protect his father’s work. Unfortunately, in this case it doesn’t need his protecting. The way things stand now, Peter Jackson is probably better suited to protect it than he is. Can we hand the Tolkien Estate over to him? After all, he is an honorary hobbit.
Luckily this isn’t the first time the Lord of the Rings franchise has gone through one of these legal snags, and so far it hasn’t slowed things down. There’s no reason to believe it will this time either. We hope.