Today Peter Jackson announced that he would be expanding his vision of The Hobbit from 2 films to 3. Wait, what? This man wants to turn one book that was written at a children’s reading level into three movies? Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on just how far down the rabbit hole we have come before we explore the implications of this move.
In 1995, there was discussion of 3 films based on the Tolkien properties: The Hobbit and 2 Lord of the Rings films. This was later revised several times to yeild 3 films based solely on the Lord of the Rings property and it laid the groundwork for either Jackson or some other director to create The Hobbit at a later date.
The success of Lord of the Rings saw 8 films made from the 7 books in the Harry Potter franchise, and thus the slippery slope of escalation had begun. Harry Potter milked its fans out of a few more bucks and copycat franchise Twilight jumped on board when they decided to split their 4th novel into 2 movies, totaling 5 for the series. I guess they thought that people would be dumb enough to pay for the same movie twice.
Finally, not to be outdone by a bunch of brooding vampires and dumb wizards, Jackson came back with the announcement that he would create 2 Hobbit films, totaling 5 for him in the Middle-Earth realm. That is, until today when he decided that 6 films were necessary. Granted, the source material of The Hobbit will be greatly expanded upon with the auxiliary work that Tolkien sent years working on well after his original 4 stories were released, but I mean…seriously? Are we seriously at the point where one children’s novel can be turned into 3 movies?
Now, don’t get me wrong — I will be in attendance on opening night of all three films because of Jackson’s stellar work with the Lord of the Rings franchise. I’m not complaining that I’m getting to have so much awesome shit just because Peter Jackson is crazy (in a good way). The real problem here is that it will set a dangerous precedent for future movie franchises.
Bolstered by the fact that 1 book can now be split into 3 movies (aka 3 times as much money at the box office) Hollywood producers will no doubt announce that every book that has decent sales numbers will be adapted as a planned trilogy of films. Or worse yet, in the very near future we could be seeing one book’s material spread out over 4 films. Get ready to see The Hunger Games in 12 parts as well as 50 installments of Fifty Shades of Grey.
I think that the people who have the right approach about adapting literature to a visual medium are the folks at HBO. Making a series of one hour programs for something like Game of Thrones is pretty much the best way to keep everyone happy with what you’re doing. Rather than trying to cram a bunch of book into a 2 and a half hour movie, the screenwriters can take their time hitting all of the plot points of the show. Additionally, the audience doesn’t have to wait quite so long between installments of their beloved franchises. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Now who do I speak to about my vision for a dark, gritty re-imagining of The Hardie Boys?