It's been announced Peter Jackson and New Line will work together to adapt JRR Tolkein's The Hobbit for the big screen. Plans were unveiled yesterday for a two-film version of the beloved The Lord of the Rings precursor, with Jackson leading the creative team - but he won't be directing. Helming committments on The Lovely Bones and collaborating with Steven Spielberg on Tintin means another director will take charge of both films.
Likely choice for the job? Spiderman helmer Sam Raimi. [That sound you hear is a bazillion geeks exploding with joy across the globe.] The plan is to shot both films in New Zealand back-to-back, just as was done with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those blockbuster movies made Jackson, his creatives partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, his Weta companies and New Line a ton of money. But disputes over money led to acrimony.
There've been efforts recently to rebuild bridges, looks like those efforts have been successful. Having Jackson et al on board for The Hobbit always felt necessary, so the adaptation could blend seamlessly with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But does The Hobbit need two films to tell its story? Tolkein's book for children is no longer than any of the three books that became a trilogy of movies.
Are two films artistically justifiable? Or is this just another example of filmmaker bloat [something that made Jackson's King Kong an underwhelming effort, IMHO] and squeezing the most money out of a beloved book? Guess we'll find out in 2010 and 2011, when the two films are due in cinemas. Ironically, it may be another fantasy film adaptation that sealed the deal on The Hobbit.
New Line has recently released The Golden Compass, an adaptation of the first book in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. New Line had hopes it could create another blockbust trilogy of films, following in the footsteps on The Lord of the Rings. But The Golden Compass has flopped in US cinemas, making a fraction of its production budget.
There's more greater success internationally for the movie, but prospect for further features in the series look doubtful. This relative failure and yesterday's announcement The Hobbit may have no connection. If so, it's just a happy coincidence for fans of Jackson's take on Tolkein. Whatever the reason, fingers crossed the Kiwi magician can recapture lightning in a bottle.