I know I’ve spoken recently about my ‘Christopher Nolan Effect’ theory. But, as someone who watches a lot of movies, I have another theory and this time, it brings me much more pain because it is impacting on a franchise that I love. If you’ve ever glanced at this blog before, you’ll know that I have been waiting with bated breath for The Hobbit. By “bated breath” I, of course, mean “screaming uncontrollably every time someone mentions it and spending an inordinate amount of time looking at press images and video diaries”. Obviously.
It was announced during initial filming that the story would be split into two. Which is fine. I have come to grimly accept that this is now the way of things. However, Peter Jackson announced on Tuesday that now there would be not two, but three Hobbit films.
Before I launch into my theory, I’m just going to take a second here to vibrate with righteous anger. THREE!? What!? Why!? How!? Argh. The Hobbit is one book and one story, Peter. Yes, it is set in J.R.R Tolkien’s very large Middle Earth universe. Yes, Tolkien himself said that it was ‘a tale that grew in the telling.’ Yes, there is a lot of ground to cover. But I would just like to point out, Peter, that you made THREE Lord of the Rings films from the THREE MUCH LONGER AND MORE CONVOLUTED Lord of the Rings novels. And let’s be honest, you could have cut some of that shit out. The ending of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King has about 25 minutes worth of unnecessary farewells that could have been much shorter if you’d just made Sam and Frodo make out. People fucking love The Hobbit because it’s a short, simple and beautiful story. People who don’t even love the fantasy genre love The Hobbit. They might get lost or bored in LOTR, but The Hobbit has something special. And now you’re ruining it! ARGH!
Alright. I’m calm now. I’ve shouted a bit. Let’s get back to what my initial point was, shall we? Peter Jackson has fallen victim to what I am calling ‘The Harry Potter Split Effect’. Cast your mind back a few years to the end of Harry Potter. Shh… I know it hurts, but stay with me. Remember how cheap it felt when they announced that, rather than having one epic finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be released in two parts? In spite of Warner Bros’ inistence that “the best way to do the book, and its many fans, justice is to expand the screen adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and release the film in two parts”, it just felt exactly like the shameless and smutty cash grab that it was. I mean, we got an excellent dance sequence out of it (love a good dance sequence) but it was totally unnecessary.
It didn’t end terribly. The films were alright and the most tragic thing about it was that there was no more Harry Potter and I had to go back to being an adult (sort of). What did happen though was a massive knock-on effect where suddenly the Twilight finale Breaking Dawn had so much detailed story-telling it also needed to be split into two parts. (No. No it doesn’t.)
The division of HP7 meant that it was now OK for studios to needlessly split stories in half in order to double the ticket sales. They could blame the whole thing on ‘artistic integrity’ and ‘fan demand’ and get away with it. And now this trend is fucking with my enjoyment of The Hobbit. They will make an absolute killing on these films because people love the story. And because it belongs to the endless realms of Middle Earth, they have the legitimate content to back it up.
Jackson announced on Facebook yesterday,”We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes’.”
I’m sure the smell of money didn’t hurt either. But whatever. My main concern here is that they’ve made the decision pretty late in the game and the film won’t live up to the standard that I so desperately want it to meet. So consider this my open letter to Peter Jackson:
Please make a good film. I know that the temptation to make a lot of cash and pan across endless bleak shots of New Zealand scenery is too much to resist. I’m mostly fine with this. But I am going to give you my money. A lot of my money. In return, I am entrusting you with one of my most beloved childhood books. So far, I have liked all the decisions you’ve made re: casting, etc. Especially Martin Freeman as Bilbo. Kudos on that one. If you think you can make three EXCEPTIONAL films, then please, go ahead. But if you think that there is the slightest chance that one of them might be even a little bit sub-par, then just stick to two (or even one, if they’ll let you). Quality over quantity, ya know? Thanks. Alex.
Anyway, the third film remains untitled, so for now all we can do is wait. Right. That’s it. I’m out for today. I leave you with this picture of Martin Freeman in his jaunty little cap, because I just can’t get enough of that shit and it makes me feel better after a long day’s ranting.