Things I Missed - In The Shire

We know creatively how compelling and engaging the story can be and--lastly, and most importantly--we know how much of the tale of Bilbo Baggins, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur would remain untold if we did not fully realize this complex and wonderful adventure. I'm delighted that New Line, MGM and Warner Bros. are equally enthusiastic about bringing fans this expansive tale across three films.
So says Peter Jackson on the announcement that The Hobbit, as was widely rumoured a couple weeks ago, will be three films. This Christmas will see the release of An Unexpected Journey, and the next two years will see the final two parts, one of which will be There And Back Again. So, what does this mean?

Well, now that it's a certainty, I'm come to terms with it, and have decided it's a good thing. Because, what's getting lost in the shuffle of people completely losing their shit over this, is that no one is talking about shooting another film. Clearly, since this news came after Comic-con, where they could have made this announcement and lifted the roof off that place, and just weeks after shooting ended, that this is an editing decision. Jackson looked at what he had, and looked at what needed to be done, and went to New Line and said "we need a third film." And considering that the Lord of the Rings Trilogy made $2.9 billion and won 17 Oscars, they said "yes."

Hit the jump for my thoughts on this development.

So what does this mean, really? Well, to my mind, only good things. We know that the first film will cover everything from the Unexpected Party to the Barrels. This will presumably also include the first Wise Council. The trailer also suggests it will feature Gandalf's discovery of Dol Guldur, and the release of Thráin. What it left for the sequel was everything else, including the expulsion of the Necromancer, the men of Lake-town and the interactions with Smaug, as well as the Battle of Five Armies. That is a lot of material, no matter how little detail the book might have went into, and especially considering that the main focus of the book is the Smaug material, and the Lonely Mountain.

One is reporting that New Line has trademarked two new titles, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of Five Armies. It means they haven't made up their mind which movie is going to end up with There and Back Again, and I think it paints a pretty clear picture of what each movie will include.

The second film will be about the men of Lake-Town, and the wrath of Smaug. The second Wise Council and the expulsion of the Necromancer will almost certainly be in this second film. The third film will be about the taking of the Lonely Mountain, the claims against its riches, and the Battle of Five Armies. It gives breathing room to make certain the motivations for the war are well examined, and it gives time for Gandalf to return from Mirkwood to take part in the Battle.

More importantly, I believe it will mean we'll get smaller movies. The reason the original trilogy were bladder busters was that Jackson had a lot of material to get through, and had a difficult time cutting things (which he did, extensively. The movies are only shades of the books). With the Hobbit we'll have the opposite problem. Each movie will feature one major plot device: getting there, a dragon, and a war. Because they won't have to feature endless shots of walking, or a half a dozen different plot threads, the movies should (hopefully) be more standard length films. Which is obviously what Jackson was worried about, looking at the second film and realising it was going to have to be four to five hours long to accommodate his material.

It also gives Jackson some breathing room to finish the films. Smaug and the War are going to be massive CG undertakings, and both were due in a year and a half. Now, they've got a year and a half for the dragon, and two and half for the Five Armies. That is good. It also gives him room to do reshoots, if need be. He did it the first time, especially Two Towers, and the Osgiliath material, which was reshot after the release of Fellowship.

We can also expect the format of the films to be similar. Each will start with a flash back, the first more then likely Bilbo and Frodo preparing the 111st birthday party, to give the Hobbit context. The second and third films will most likely start with footage of Smaug's arrival at the Lonely Mountain, and of the Necromancer's arrival in Mirkwood, thus filling in material from the appendixes, or that is told in other places in the books (the Wise Council material largely comes from a passage in The Fellowship of the Ring).

More to the point, the three Hobbit films will now match the action beats of the Lord of the Rings. The first film will be about the gathering of the party, and little adventures when starting out. Gandalf will depart at roughly the same place. The second film will follow two major story lines, one involving Gandalf, the other, the hobbit, and will end with an impressive, but minor, battle. The third will see the story lines converge again, and hinge on a massive battle sequence, followed by an endless series of endings, during which we will no doubt see glimpses of more Lord of the Rings characters, and the formation of a bridge between the films fuelled by Gandalf's suspicions about the Ring.

I'd much rather have three well made, shorter films, then two good, overly long films. And I think that is what Jackson wants too. And for the record, I think There And Back Again works too well as a final title (it's the Back Again part that sings finale to me), so I'm in favour of the Desolation of Smaug for the second film.

Via Topless Robot, and again.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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