It started out as a rumor – Peter Jackson had so much B-roll from shooting the two Hobbit films, that he was considering creating a trilogy. Jackson denied it, and the studios backing the project shot down the talk left and right. Then, right after the San Diego Comic Con, a third Hobbit movie was announced, new contracts were signed, and fans are left wondering, “Do we really need THREE Hobbit movies?”
Short answer, “Yes.”
For the longer answer, we need to delve a bit deeper into what Jackson is bringing to the screen, and how this is ultimately beneficial to filmmakers.
THERE WILL NOT BE A SILMARILLION MOVIE
As much as Tolkien fans may want to see it happen, the chances of The Silmarillion becoming a feature franchise, is near impossible. First, the material is so dense that it would take at least nine movies to get it all in. Second, the concepts and ideas – starting with the creation myth and moving to the Third Age, would be difficult to translate, thus causing many viewers to walk away confused. Heck, there are expanses of the book that read like an oral family tree with this character begetting that character, and so on. This would have a negative effect for the future films, that include the all important “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.”
Though there are only 20 pages describing Saurons emergences as the main power in the Second Age of Middle-earth, the creation of The One Ring, and ultimately how Isildur was ambushed in the Gladden Fields, with the ring falling in the River Anduin, helps make Gollum’s story more complete.
While the Lord of the Rings Appendices contain some of the information regarding the creation of the Nine Rings, we never got to see it on the screen in the Lord of the Rings movies. The Silmarillion is a guide to the entire creation of Tolkien’s world, and there are some very cool and important aspects of that book that can be brought to the screen to help bridge The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories for general audiences.
THE APPENDICES AND THE BIG BATTLE
Speaking of the Appendices, there have been a number of reports that have given hints at what Jackson may include in the Hobbit trilogy. Regardless of how the story is broken up over three films, the story of the Dwarves, and the fall of Lonely Mountain, the creation of the Rings, and what exactly Gandalf was doing when he disappeared for chapters at a time, only helps to make the story seem more logical. For many, seeing Saraman being a force of “good” in The Hobbit, is going to cause confusion when it comes to The Lord of the Rings, so seeing him change to a force of “evil” in these movies is something that is really needed.
One of the biggest cop-outs I felt Tolkien did in The Hobbit was downplay the Battle of the Five Armies. Bilbo getting bonked on the head, and being taken out for much of the fight left little for those who were waiting for descriptions of an epic battle. Though I don’t think Jackson will take an entire movie to show this brawl to end it all, it is still something I want to see in more detail than simply having Gandalf recount the events, with Bilbo and Thorin making amends in a few short moments before Thorin kicks the bucket.
MO’ MONEY, MO’ MONEY, MO’ MONEY!
While many people hearing the news of the trilogy will instantly jump to the conclusion that this is being done simply as a money grab, is that really a bad thing? For decades now, the concept of the tent-pole film has been used to help the movie industry has a whole. If a big movie trilogy like The Hobbit can bring in billions of dollars (which I hope it does), what will the studio do with all that money? The company is not going to leave it in a bank gathering dust, they are going to fund other movies, those with smaller budgets, or those that are a bit outside the mainstream in order to make even more money. For the studio, the success of The Hobbit movies only means good things for movie fans as a whole, as future Mementos, 300s, and Sin Citys can be funded without worry.
MAKE IT SO
Sadly, this is going to be Peter Jackson’s last foray into Middle Earth, and if he can go out with a majestic bang, then more power to him. The studios have already committed to three films, they are going to happen if for nothing else than to finish the story so audiences are not left hanging. If one looks at the Hobbit as a complete story, it’s the subtle way the new material is interwoven into the current content that will make the story expand to three films. I don’t want to sit in a theater for four hours per film, and if that means we need to head back to the movieplex three times in the next two years, in order to get a more complete story, and if the money made will fund other film projects, then I’m all for it.