Jeff Horwich: Peter Jackson wrote and directed the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. And he had been preparing the world for his two movies based on their prequel — “The Hobbit.” And suddenly — like an orc wrestling its way free from the muck of Isengard — a third movie has emerged. Jackson says you just can’t do it in two.
The news has been greeted with mixed emotions. We’re going to work through ours with Scott Beggs — he’s is managing editor of the blog “Film School Rejects.” Good to talk with you, Scott.
Scott Beggs: Thank you for having me.
Horwich: So Scott, I’m going to take you through some reasonable scenarios for what might be going on here, I want to hear what you think. First, we’ll extend the benefit of the doubt — we’ll talk about what you might call “The fanboy argument,” maybe, which is essentially Peter Jackson’s line: He says the story of “The Hobbit” is just too rich to do in two movies. What do you think?
Beggs: You know, I think on the one hand, he really used the right words, from our perspective, as the filmmakers and as fans. That is the kind of thing that gives encouragement to people like me especially who love the universe. On the other hand, it’s the kind of thing that shows that he as a director or as a creative visionary wants to extend this not for monetary reasons, not for financial reasons, but for the purity, the purity of storytelling. And I think that’s the kind of thing that the optimist in me really is happy about.
Horwich: OK, so you’ll take him at his word, but here’s a second scenario: Peter Jackson has filmed everything. Maybe he filmed too much, and now that he’s back in the editing studio, he’s got this painful process and doesn’t quite have the stomach to cut it down to two reasonable-length movies.
Beggs: Right, and there’s a concern here for some that’s stretching the story into three films will require too many new concepts being injected into what frankly is a literary classic. The idea here is that if it’s stretched to three films — this 310-page book — that it can’t possibly be faithful to the original work.
Horwich: And finally Scott, the totally cynical take: Three movies make more money than two. Isn’t that basically what’s going on here?
Beggs: Yeah, you know, that’s something to be said. The “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy took $281 million in investment and turned it into $2.9 billion in the box office alone.
Horwich: And the third movie was the biggest of all, wasn’t it?
Beggs: Absolutely. However, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy had 1,100 pages of material; “The Hobbit,” 310. That may not get the same sort of concrete base that the fans gave to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy here. And of course, this comes on the heels of splitting books from the “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” franchises. It’s a move largely seen — and perhaps correctly seen — as being motivated more by profit than by storytelling, and I think that cynicism there is not unfounded either.
Horwich: Scott Beggs, managing editor of Film School Rejects. I’m glad for your “Hobbit”-related insights. Thank you.
Beggs: Thank you so much for having me back on.