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Why Peter Jackson directing ‘The Hobbit’ may not be so positive

By Scott Mendelson I’ve been down this road before, but now that it’s official, it’s worth repeating. After years of speculation and attempted pawn-offs, Peter Jackson is in fact directing “The Hobbit.” As of yesterday, MGM and Warner Bros. have reached a deal to fund two films based on “The Hobbit” at an absurd cost of $500 million. First of all, at $250 million apiece, each film will basically have to perform like “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” just to break even. Each film will basically cost what the first two “Lord of the Rings” films cost combined, and the whole two-film project will cost around $100 million more than the original three films cost back in 2001-2003. I suppose this is exciting news for the hardcore fans of the original series, as well as JRR Tolkien fans in general. While I firmly believe that the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is the most impressive film achievement of the just-finished decade, I can’t help feeling a little depressed at the news. This isn’t a case of Peter Jackson returning in glory to a franchise that made him a legend. This truly feels like a case of Peter Jackson, unfairly marginalized because of one wrongly-lambasted box office smash (“King Kong”) and one genuine misfire (“The Lovely Bones”), begrudgingly returning to Middle Earth because he had no where left to go.

Even as a prequel defender, there is no doubt that the Star Wars prequel trilogy would have been better had George Lucas actually had any successes post-Return of the Jedi outside of the Indiana Jones series. Had Howard the Duck, Willow, The Radioland Murders, etc actually been critical and commercial successes, Lucas’s plunging back into the “Star Wars” universe would have been a triumphant return rather than a resigned escape. Does anyone think that Ghostbusters III isn’t going to be a depressing grasp for former glory from Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, and whomever else is coerced into coming back? Despite occasional threats of a return, does anyone truly think that Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi can recapture the seat-of-their-pants dazzle of the first two Evil Dead pictures with a fourth film nearly twenty years after Army of Darkness? And does anyone really believe that Ridley Scott would be helming an Alien prequel if Kingdom of Heaven, Body of Lies, Robin Hood, Matchstick Men, and/or A Good Year hadn’t financially and/or critically underperformed?

To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos.

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One Comment

  • October 17, 2010 | Permalink |

    I have been told that Martin Freeman will be Bilbo and that other roles will be:

    David Tennant as Thranduil
    James Nesbitt as Beorn
    Michael Fassbender as Bard the Bowman
    Brian Cox as Thorin
    Charles Dance as the voice of Smaug
    Bruce Payne as Bert the troll

    It is an excellent cast and i cannot wait to see it.

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