Do not take us for consumers of cheap tricks

Look, Peter Jackson. I was skeptical at first about “The Hobbit,” but you won me over by unveiling characters that showed you understood and cared about J.R.R. Tolkien’s work (if not in the original spirit of the bedtime-story “Hobbit.”)

Do we have to do this again?

You report on your Facebook page that you’re now going to make “The Hobbit,” a slight novel you had previously split into two movies, in three.

This is, you say, driven not by the sort of crass economics that led the makes of the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” franchises to split their final films in two, but by the surfeit of rich material you’ve already filmed.

Upon recently viewing a cut of the first film, and a chunk of the second, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and I were very pleased with the way the story was coming together. We recognized that the richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, gave rise to a simple question: do we tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as filmmakers and fans was an unreserved ‘yes.’ We know the strength of our cast and of the characters they have brought to life.  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.

Well, first, that’s bull. It’s about the money, first and foremost.

I’m presuming that when you say “The Hobbit” is going to have the same number of films as “The Lord of the Rings,” it’s not actually going to be as long as your first trilogy. These won’t be three three-hour movies, right? Perhaps three two-hour films, making the series six hours long, the equivalent of two “Lord of the Rings” movies. That’s got to be the case, because I’ve read the Appendices from “Return of the King” that you’re drawing your extra material from, and there’s not THAT much in there, even adding whole subplots about the war against Dol Goldur and the historical War of the Dwarves and Orcs and expanding the Smaug’s raid on Laketown into a 20-minute action sequence and the Battle of Five Armies into a 40-minute spectacle. (The last two I’ve been especially counting on.)

When you announced at the beginning that “The Hobbit” would be two movies, I was okay with it. Sure, it was about the money, but it seemed reasonable that you could make it a creative success as well.

This further post-facto division has me less enthused. It’s one thing to add in a bunch of extra material for extended editions on DVDs (and does this mean we won’t be getting those? Because I would have paid for them), it’s another to make that extra material work in an extra film so that all three films have beginnings, middles and ends. To take your existing material and create one additional stand-alone plot with climax than you had been planning all along.

But making money isn’t necessarily antithetical to artistic triumph. (Just usually.) And you bought a lot of trust with “The Lord of the Rings.”

So when you say you can make “The Hobbit” into one more film than you planned when you wrote the script, cast the actors and filmed THE ENTIRE TWO MOVIES, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.


You had a good thing going. Don’t screw this up.