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Peter Jackson Reveals Where ‘The Hobbit’ Would've Been Split If It Was 2 Movies As Originally Planned

by Edward Davis
December 13, 2013 4:46 PM
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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” hits theaters this weekend. It’s either the far better of the two ‘Hobbit’ films thus far, or barely better depending on your point of view (you can read our review here). Originally scheduled to be two films, near the end of production, Jackson and Warner Bros. decided to split the story into three films. Good idea? Bad idea? It’ll be hard to tell until the whole thing is over, but our review suggests, you’re already seeing those growing pains.

“The strain of what was originally conceived as one story running the course of two movies, now stretched to its limits with a third picture, is deeply felt,” our reviewer wrote. “The character arcs are negligible... far too many of the film's story elements [are] just a set up which will pay off in another episode. The episodic, middle chapter [nature of movies] that is currently hurting the modern-day tentpole sequel is fully evinced.”

OK, so the stretched nature of the narrative seems to be a problem. Mercenary-like move? "People think it's a cold-blooded cash-grab from the studio, but it didn’t come from the studio at all, [the idea to expand to a third film] came from [co-screenwriters] Fran [Walsh] Philipa [Boyens] and I,” Jackson himself said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.

So where would the split of the story originally occurred? And this will probably make more sense to you after you’ve seen the movie, but Jackson said, “The split was going to occur where Bard [The Bowman played by Luke Evans] appears on the river bank as a silhouetted figure with a bow. So the whole barrel sequence was going to be the climax.”

If they would have kept it that way, the first ‘Hobbit’ movie unedited as they are now, would have likely ran about 4 and ½ hours. Jackson says he realizes lots of audiences had problems with the “meandering road movie”-ness of the first 'Hobbit' film, but says the decision to expand the movies means “we rethought it all,” and that this was more satisfying. “There was certainly no shortage of material,” he added. 

Well, so far the first two movies run almost 6 hours and there’s no doubt “There And Back Again” due December 14, 2015 will run almost 3 hours once more. You’ll have to check back after you see the second film and see if you think it was worth it. ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ opens up in theaters nationwide today.

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  • APPLE | May 1, 2014 3:58 PMReply

    The Hobbit didn't need 3 parts, it didn't even need 2, nor the serious tone and grim atmosphere Jackson gave it.
    The Hobbit is supposed to be a lighthearted little story, not some sort of overarching epic.
    And well, considering he thinks making 3 movies out of a 300-page book is justifiable by crying "artistry" then he should go back to LotR and make at least six films out of each book, I mean, because he obviously has so much to show us and this is in no way a gross cash grab, like Tolkien's supermarket list and his used toilet paper, there's some brilliant ideas there to produce 2 1/2 hours worth of filler per film.

  • observer | July 18, 2014 6:58 AM

    I'm so glad, that it's PJ - and NOT you - who is making the Hobbit films!

  • James McDonald | December 15, 2013 12:00 AMReply

    I am so glad the studio agreed with Peter Jackson that he had so much filmed footage, he could make another movie with it and so the second movie was created and #2 became #3 There and Back Again. I love how Peter Jackson makes the J.R.R. Tolkien movies. Beautiful and exciting to watch. I wonder if Peter Jackson has a third trilogy in mind of J.R.R. Tolkiens work that he can get the rights to?

  • Glass | December 14, 2013 11:50 AMReply

    Just tell me this: does Smaug at LEAST get desolated in this, or does the movie end with him still alive?

  • obri | December 14, 2013 1:25 PM

    it's not smaug getting desolated, it's smaug doing the desolation.

  • Dryer | December 13, 2013 7:42 PMReply

    The strain is felt ten minutes into the movie- there's an odd pace like your almost watching a dress rehearsal of a stage play. The film barely contains 80minutes of actual content the rest is typical Peter Jackson fodder of odd camera angles, childish action sequences and scares. Haven't been this disappointed since watching King Kong. Im not even sure I'd want to purchase the film individually because it doesn't work really on any terms.

  • bob | March 9, 2014 6:20 PM

    i respect your point of view but i don't agree with anything your saying,the whole point was to stretch the movie otherwise your left with that feel of, i need more, I am a fan of middle earth so much that nothing could make me insult it

  • irukanji | December 13, 2013 7:59 PM

    Damn that sucks.i understand that feeling of being disappointed in a film that you were looking forward to.
    But i enjoyed the hobbit so much when it ended i was ready to watch the desolation of smaug. i was happy to be back to middle earth.
    I don't agree with your points but i understand/respect your opinion.

  • Alan B | December 13, 2013 6:00 PMReply

    Wow, even though the team have criticized Jackson for refusing to trim the fat, Davis took four paragraphs to get to the actual point of the article. Then again, others probably would have stretched it across three pages.

  • sam | April 16, 2014 1:12 PM

    if you actually read the book azog was not in the book so if you cut all of that out the you could of fitted it into two movies and now I found out that its nearly two years away

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