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December 17, 2006 - January 10, 2007

1-10-07 Latest News

Forum Blitz with Prosthetics Wizard
Xoanon @ 3:12 pm EST

Last year we tried something different on our Weta Forums, and invited Workshop Designer Daniel Falconer to ‘blitz’ the forums. And it was so popular that we have invited Senior Prosthetics Supervisor and Visual Creature Effects Art Director, Gino Acevedo to do it this month.

Gino oversaw all the special makeup requirements that Weta Workshop provided for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This included hundreds and hundreds of noses, ears and feet as well as the countless full facial and full body make-up appliances for all of Middle-earth’s non human inhabitants.

Seven of the nine leads in the films wore some form of prosthetic appliance- a huge undertaking to say the least! In addition, Gino oversaw the paint designs of all the films’ creatures, including Gollum, and was directly involved in bringing the many digital creatures and characters to life.

During King Kong Gino designed the prosthetic Skull Island Native make-ups with Dominie Till as well as art directing the film’s creatures at Weta Digital.

Gino will be blitzing the forums on NZ Wed 24 & 31 January 2007. Around the world that is:

Melbourne, Australia: Wed 24 & 31 January
London, England: Tues 23 & 30 January
New York, USA: Tues 23 & 30 January
Tokyo, Japan: Wed 24 & 31 January
Paris, France: Tues 23 & 30 January

It’s a good idea to spend some time in the forums before the blitz to search the topics and post your own questions, you can do that by logging onto wetanz-forums.com. You can check out Gino's bio and gallery here.

1-06-07 Latest News

Peter S. Beagle Talks 'THE HOBBIT'
Xoanon @ 4:29 pm EST

Peter S. Beagle is known worldwide for his novels, non-fiction, and screenplays. His most famous work, The Last Unicorn, has sold more than six million copies and routinely polls as one of the Top 10 fantasy novels of all time (Its follow-up, "Two Hearts," just won the 2006 Hugo Award). Peter is deeply involved in Middle-earth, having written the famous introductory page in Ballantine's LOTR paperback editions and the screenplay for Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings. This coming February 6, 2007, Lionsgate Entertainment will release a special 25th Anniversary DVD of The Last Unicorn, with a screenplay by Beagle [FANS: help Peters cause by purchasing your autographed DVD exclusively from Conlan Press!].

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As a fiction writer with some experience with the film world, I'm very clear on at least one aspect of the business: you never know the whole story. That applies to other people, as well as writers -- it's entirely possible that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh don't really know the deepest motives behind New Line's behavior, and never may. I think it's been so from the days of The Great Train Robbery.

Once, long ago, I said lightly to Ralph Bakshi, "Of course, everybody down there in Hollywood keeps three separate sets of books." To which Bakshi replied, "Hell, yes!" I was joking. He wasn't. I learned all about that when it came time for me to collect the last half of my own miserly $5,000 pay for writing the animated version of Lord of the Rings, only to find that I had to threaten to sue Saul Zaentz in order to get it. (And I am still fighting, all these years later, to try and make him live up to his other promises. Click here if you are curious.)

I am far less knowledgeable and opinionated about directors than I am about scripts and screenwriters. But I do believe that, certain flaws aside, Peter Jackson made as good a Lord of the Rings as we are ever likely to see outside the multiplex of our minds. Someone else quite possibly might have made it as well -- as someone else may well make a perfectly good film of The Hobbit -- but I know something of LOTR's nearly-half-century journey to the screen, and I don't believe that anyone else could have gotten it made. We're not talking about special effects unavailable twenty years ago, but about obsession: about a certain kind of madness, if you like. Madness allied to talent, to commitment, to love... as George Gobel, a comedian of my youth, used to say, "You can't hardly get them kind no more."

And you can't.

Peter S. Beagle


1-01-07 Latest News

John D. Rateliff Talks 'THE HOBBIT'
Xoanon @ 9:24 pm EST

John D. Rateliff moved to Wisconsin in 1981 in order to work with the Tolkien manuscripts at Marquette University. He has been active in Tolkien scholarship for many years, delivering papers on Tolkien and the Inklings. While at Marquette, he assisted in the collation of their holdings with those Christopher Tolkien was editing for his History of Middle-earth series. A professional editor, he lives in the Seattle area with his wife and three cats (only one of whom is named after a Tolkien character). His upcoming book, History of "The Hobbit," is described by TolkienLibrary.com as "An essential resource book for the forthcoming movie adaptation of The Hobbit."

TheOneRing.net asked John to comment on the recent activity regarding The Hobbit, here is what he had to say: As I see it, there are two paths a film of THE HOBBIT could take, one being to stress its affinities with THE LORD OF THE RINGS and the other to emphasis its independence (it was after all originally written as a stand-alone story).

For the first path, Peter Jackson is obviously the man for the job. Only he could make a film of THE HOBBIT in such as way that it seems an extension of the three LORD OF THE RINGS movies, which is unquestionably what the overwhelming majority of people who saw the LotR movies want. Without Jackson at the helm, without his team of scriptwriters and his crew and his special effects people, it'd be impossible to make a film of THE HOBBIT that has the look and feel of the LotR films, even with New Zealand locations and the retention of some of the cast Jackson assembled. With Jackson in charge, I have every confidence he could make a film of THE HOBBIT just as good as his films of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (and that's saying something).

For the second path, my feeling is that if Jackson and his team don't make the film, then everything should change. New director, new scriptwriter, new cast, new crew, new concept artists, new composer, new special effects house, new locations. There's more than one way to make a good film out of THE HOBBIT (and more than one bad way too, or course), and whoever would wind up in charge under that scenario should concentrate on making the best possible movie, not on doing things the way Jackson would have done them.

My greatest fear is that it'll fall between these stools, and we'll get pseudo-Jackson or "Jackson-lite": an attempt to film something that looks like Jackson's work without Jackson himself, which I think would be disastrous.

So, for me the best possible outcome would be for Jackson to make the film, in New Zealand, starring the two Sir Ians (McKellan and Holm), backed by Shore and Lee and Howe and the rest, but hopefully with more fidelity to Tolkien's storyline and without the occasional gaffs that marred the second and third films ( e.g., the characterizations of Faramir and Denethor). I've come to accept that Holm's starting as Bilbo is unlikely, but given the excellence of his performance in the first film, one can hope. That said, there are any number of talented actors out there who could play these characters -- after all, I was one of those bitterly disappointed that Sean Connery was not cast as Gandalf in THE LORD OF THE RINGS, only to be deeply impressed by McKellan's superlative performance, which I really think could hardly be bettered. So if we were forced to do without Sir Ian Holm I'm sure they could find someone else who could do a fine job -- my own personal choice would be Sir Hugh Laurie, who's about the right age to play Bilbo and has shown he can do both silly (Bertie Wooster) and serious (House).

As for a LotR prequel film, it's an interesting idea but I don't see how it's practicable. There simply isn't a single story between Bilbo's adventures and Frodo's quest to build a film around. There are lots of interesting snippets -- Balin's foray into Moria, the adventures of young Aragorn, and the like -- but they don't add up to any kind of coherent story. A tv special might be able to get away with a series of vignettes, but I don't see how that would work in a theatrical film. In the end I'm reminded of Tolkien's own decision, after writing a single chapter of his projected sequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS, "The New Shadow", to leave well enough alone, and think the studios would be wise to do the same.

Lynnette Porter Talks 'THE HOBBIT'
Xoanon @ 9:18 pm EST

Lynnette Porter is the author of Unsung Heroes of The Lord of the Rings: From the Page to the Screen and other books about popular culture, including Unlocking the Meaning of Lost: An Unauthorized Guide. She contributed essays to Lembas for the Soul and a chapter in the forthcoming book, How We Became Middle-Earth. She is a frequent speaker about film, television, and popular culture at academic conferences such as the Popular Culture Association, Tolkien 2005, and Hawaiian International Conference on the Arts and Humanities, as well as fan events like ORC and ELF . She has been conducting research at the Tolkien archives at Marquette University and will soon return to New Zealand in preparation for writing two Lord of the Rings-related books.

TheOneRing.net asked Lynnette to comment on the recent activity regarding The Hobbit, here is what she had to say:

How would you feel about another director making The Hobbit?

The importance of the choice of the director making The Hobbit depends on your perception of whether Tolkien’s world can be easily captured on film. Many fans of Tolkien’s book weren’t happy with Peter Jackson’s adaptation of LotR and probably wouldn’t be thrilled with his adaptation of The Hobbit. Some people prefer books to films and won’t be completely satisfied with any cinematic adaptation of a beloved book. Others still believe that a book like LotR never will be successfully transferred to film. Whoever ends up filming The Hobbit will run into this problem of adapting a well-loved book for a very different medium.

With that said, I enjoyed Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth and found the LotR films very entertaining. Were they faithful adaptations of my favorite book? Not really—they succeeded in some areas more than others. I still cringe at dwarf-tossing jokes and wish that Legolas hadn’t been quite so much of a special effects darling. Are there moments to which I return year after year, viewing after viewing? Oh, yes—Bilbo’s birthday party, Gandalf’s words of wisdom to Frodo, the loving relationships of the hobbits. The films are among my favorites, but they present a different story than Tolkien wrote. If I had the power to trust The Hobbit to any director, however, I’d choose Peter Jackson. He knows how to make a good film, and if I don’t agree with all his choices as a director, well, no director’s vision will replace the mental images I’ve long carried from Tolkien’s words.

Compared to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit should be an easier story to film, and I’d like to see Peter Jackson’s adaptation. It’s important for one consistent vision of Middle-earth to be completed, and this seems to be the one opportunity for both The Hobbit and LotR to be presented as a uniform work of art. In the future, other directors undoubtedly will film LotR or create Middle-earth on stage (a theatrical version bowed in Toronto in 2006 and will debut in London in 2007). Before Jackson’s LotR gets much older, audiences should be able to see his adaptation of The Hobbit.

I agree with Anne Petty that “franchise” films directed by different artists vary greatly in quality. Although I liked many elements of Alfonso Cuaron’s Harry Potter film, I disliked the lack of continuity in the series. (I also have to mentally separate the Harry Potter books from films, because I find myself critiquing what has been changed in the adaptation process.) The darker vision presented in Cuaron’s film matched the young characters’ increasing maturity but did little to provide a smooth transition from one year at Hogwarts to another. Continuity is especially important for the success of “prequels” like The Hobbit and the rumored second film, and Peter Jackson should be selected to provide that continuity.

The early scenes of the Shire, as Jackson presented them, are lush and inviting; they bring to life the cozy, small-town life I envisioned in the book. Returning to that as well as new cinematic settings is something that I would pay to see…again and again. If The Hobbit is to be filmed, it must be a high-quality, as-faithful-as-possible adaptation. Tolkien fans expect that level of quality—and commitment from the entire creative team involved in the film project. I believe that Peter Jackson is best qualified to provide both.

What do you think about another country standing in for The Shire and Middle-earth?

Again there’s the ongoing controversy whether Middle-earth should be England or New Zealand. I’m biased in this regard: I’ve been smitten with New Zealand for a few years and travel there as often as possible to conduct research or just visit. I loved the variety of geography in LotR and would enjoy seeing more of New Zealand on film.

What I would oppose is a film shot completely in studio. The country may not be as important as the quality of sets and the realistic establishment of setting. The Hobbit needs to be visually stimulating, which requires a successful blend of studio and location shooting. New Zealand could provide both.

Would you want to see another actor play Gandalf?

No! Ian McKellen is “my” Gandalf. Although other actors undoubtedly could do justice to the role, McKellen personified in particular Gandalf the Grey. Seeing him in this role again would help provide continuity between films as well as give us one more chance to see a great actor playing such a beloved character.

What do you think of this rumored "other LOTR prequel" movie?

When I first heard this rumor, I was concerned about the direction the story would take. The success of a second film depends on the director chosen for the project. Although I enjoy Sam Raimi’s films, for example, I don’t think I’d be as eager to see his prequel to LotR, primarily because I suspect that I’d see much more Raimi than Tolkien. Although Peter Jackson took liberties with Tolkien’s LotR, I believe that he tried to incorporate as much of Tolkien’s language and plot as possible. With his experience gained from the LotR adaptations and from his knowledge of Tolkien (and selection of knowledgeable advisors and collaborators), Jackson is much more likely to create a prequel that will make sense within the history of Middle-earth and the series of films.

I often read good fan fiction that expands Tolkien’s Middle-earth, either by creating new characters and storylines or providing gap-fillers from LotR. A well-done prequel could do the same; it wouldn’t be Tolkien’s work, but it could be a realistic expansion of the story based on the Professor’s world. A successful prequel requires knowledgeable writers and a director who respect Tolkien’s work but are creative enough to add more stories to the mythology. If the prequel can be done well, I’d like to see it—I always long for more Middle-earth!

- Lynnette Porter

Amy Sturgis Talks 'THE HOBBIT'
Xoanon @ 9:08 pm EST

Amy H. Sturgis is a scholar of science fiction and fantasy and Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Belmont University. She is the author of multiple books, book chapters, and articles, and a regular guest speaker at universities and conventions across the U.S. and Canada (including the recent ORC and Gathering of the Fellowship events in 2006). Some of her most recent works include contributions to Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings (2005), Mythlore (2006), and The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (2006). She is the editor of the first scholarly English edition of Baron de la Motte Fouqué's epic precursor to Tolkien, The Magic Ring (2006), as well as the forthcoming Past Watchful Dragons: Fantasy and Faith in the World of C.S. Lewis (2007). This year Sturgis was awarded the 2006 Imperishable Flame Award for Tolkien/Inklings Scholarship by Heren Istarion, the Northeast Tolkien Society, and was the Scholar Guest of Honor for the Mythopoeic Society's annual Mythcon conference. Visit her official website at www.amyhsturgis.com.

TheOneRing.net asked Amy to comment on the recent activity regarding The Hobbit, here is what she had to say: I find the current situation between New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson to be unfortunate, because 1) this turn of events offers disappointment and even bitterness in place of the love and enthusiasm many Ringers feel for Tolkien's source texts, their adaptations, and the larger Tolkien community, and 2) it also may dissuade future filmmakers with passion, commitment, and vision from pursuing their dreams as Peter Jackson has done, for fear of encountering the same frustrations Jackson has described. In short, it seems bad both for fandom and business for such controversy to repay such success.

My feelings about a film adaptation of The Hobbit are mixed. To be fair, they would have been mixed even with Peter Jackson at the helm. The Hobbit is a very different text – it is a classical work, on the model of Beowulf, as opposed to the medieval Lord of the Rings – and thus it faces unique challenges when making the transition to the medium of film. The urge for Jackson to "fix it," or try to create a seamless piece of cinematic storytelling consistent with his preexisting film trilogy, might stretch the tale out of all recognizable shape. Moreover, a Jackson Hobbit might add to the general attitude that Jackson's adaptations of Tolkien are definitive, the ultimate and final word on the subject, and I think this is extremely short-sighted. As Tolkien has proven, the true test of great art is that it inspires others to become artists themselves. Jackson was not the first to move Middle-Earth to the silver screen, nor should he be the last. This detracts nothing from Jackson's recent accomplishments, but only emphasizes Tolkien's original ones. John Boorman's Excalibur was hailed as the definitive cinematic interpretation of Arthurian legend in 1981, and yet over half a dozen new Arthurian films have been made in as many years in the 21st century. Hobbits are not Jackson's any more than the Knights of the Round Table are Boorman's. Tolkien knew Middle-Earth was big enough for, to use his words, "other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama," and I am curious about what those others might show us. The same holds true for any "prequel" film that might develop.

I do not deny that it is difficult to envision the Shire existing anywhere but New Zealand, and it is nearly impossible to picture anyone but Sir Ian McKellen portraying Gandalf. The fact I cannot imagine it does not mean that it cannot be done. Fantastic reinterpretations do happen, even when the original interpretations are of the highest order; in the last two years alone, both Christopher Eccleston's and David Tennant's outstanding reimaginings of Dr. Who, and Daniel Craig's excellent recreation of James Bond, prove my point. (Of course, there are unsuccessful examples in recent memory, as well: Michael Gambon is not the "real" Dumbledore.) McKellen's performance in Jackson's trilogy is one of four or five that I choose to revisit in my head when I return to the books; one of the others, however, is Sir Ian Holm's Bilbo Baggins, and I assume that even if we were to see a Hobbit by Jackson sometime in the future, the moment for that casting opportunity has passed. Therefore, even a new Jackson film would fail to be a perfect match – or even a match in the most important way – with the original Jackson trilogy.

Peter Jackson deserves respect and praise for what he has accomplished with his movies, and it appears that he may not be receiving it from those who most benefited from his work. If so, that is deeply regrettable. I hope that those at New Line, when they pursue another filmmaker for The Hobbit, show the foresight to look for someone who will tackle the challenge with at least the same affection and appreciation Jackson showed to the source material. I owe a great deal to Jackson: my Tolkien classes are full thanks to the interest his movies generated. Yet his is not the definitive word on the subject of Tolkien film adaptations. Perhaps someone new will not make the same mistakes Jackson made (and yes, he did make mistakes). Certainly he or she will make brand new ones (and think of the wonderful hours of dissection and debate they will make possible!). The only final word on The Hobbit – or any of Tolkien's other tales – is Tolkien himself, and since his work opened the door for artistic creation, it should not be locked now.

Most importantly, no matter who directs what when, Tolkien's words will not change on their pages. The stories will remain.

- Amy H. Sturgis

12-20-06 Latest News

Ted Nasmith Talks 'THE HOBBIT'
Xoanon @ 1:52 pm EST

Ted Nasmith is a Canadian artist, illustrator and architectural renderer. He is best known as one of the world's most prominent illustrators of J. R. R. Tolkien's works — The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. More than just an artist, Nasmith is also considered a Tolkien scholar who is well-read in ancient history, religion, and other areas. His talent and knowledge makes Nasmith a highly sought-after guest speaker at Tolkien-related gatherings and conventions — and he is a prominent member of several Tolkien-related organizations (such as the Tolkien Society, the Mythopoeic Society, and Mensa's Beyond Bree).

TheOneRing.net asked Ted to comment on the recent activity regarding The Hobbit, here is what he had to say:

The Hobbit film: Will Peter Jackson direct, or …?

After King Kong came out I lost respect for PJ, unfortunately. I remember someone in our group raving at the time, hoping PJ would surely direct The Hobbit soon, but I wasn’t feeling quite so impressed. As it happened, I was having a difficult night then for unrelated reasons, and wasn’t well disposed in general. King Kong, in true LotR epic fashion (as we expected) ran about 3 hours, but which for me was roughly 60 minutes too long for that particular tale, and was a clear case of style and seemingly unlimited budget over substance, if ever there was. Mr. Jackson is nothing if not ambitious, and whatever else you can say about his chosen projects, he is a director who undeniably loves the Big Spectacle, and who is clearly the man of the hour for CGI epics now and to come.

With The Lord of the Rings, PJ undeniably achieved a far greater epic piece of cinema, though. Here there simply was plenty of substance, more than enough. He had something to prove, too, having had the normal constraints imposed on him by his financiers, as we know (and to be quite fair, often dealing with blatant interference; its downside). And yet here too, he still went for the Big Shot more often than the more nuanced, exquisitely poignant moments, at least ones I missed seeing. The ironic thing is, PJ has demonstrated his ability to convey certain terrible beauties in Tolkien, such as Arwen and Aragorn’s bittersweet love, but his adaptation and emphasis too often seemed more geared to set up the cast of thousands mayhem and other mainstream staples like comic relief via Gimli and Legolas than it was the melancholy or solemn scenes and moods of the original. However, one expects these compromises in Hollywood cinema, and PJ ultimately gave us the grand epic we’d so long anticipated, lovingly and painstakingly realized.

I now think that PJ probably can and will do a perfectly unique and effective re-imagining of The Hobbit, but I also still believe other directors might produce a different but no less loving adaptation, too—just not with the same continuity. There’s the rub. Continuity is obviously a problem if you want to link the two stories up via a 3rd, LotR prequel, a la Star Wars. The main argument then is of course that it’s agreeable and important to keep Mr. Jackson at the helm, his having already established the actors in their roles, and in order to have the artistic continuity of both actors, settings and the rest of the established apparatus. It makes eminent sense, and I do hope cooler heads prevail and Peter can decide freely whether he wishes to take it on after all this.

As to the your specific questions, I think there are other locations available with easily as great a resemblance to Middle-earth; you’ve got the breadth of Europe to consider, places like Russia, Poland, Scandinavia, Germany, or beautiful lesser known regions such as Romania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria or Ukraine—and of course Britain itself! Like many, I love Sir Ian McKellen’s portrayal of Gandalf, but I think audiences have accepted key casting switches in the past, and Gandalf isn’t quite as prominent a role in The Hobbit as in LotR. (How many Supermans and Batmans have we seen just in recent years, for instance?)

On the question of a LotR prequel, scripted from the LotR appendices etc.; I think it is an interesting proposition, and if handled intelligently it could be worthwhile. It would certainly be fun to have a full trilogy of stories, but many will rightly question it. If it’s the third of three films, in which the first two complete the tale of The Hobbit, then presumably you’ve got a problem with what sort of story you’re telling and whether it amounts to just a pastiche of apocryphal material. Would this final installment end up a bit of an anti-climactic dud? If it were to give us glimpses of the sinking of Numenor, the history of Sauron and his occupying, then abandonment of Dol Guldur in Mirkwood, or Gollum’s capture, and other episodes normally ‘offstage’, then it could be quite intriguing, but is it a proper story?

- Ted Nasmith

12-19-06 Latest News

Anne Petty Talks 'THE HOBBIT'
Xoanon @ 9:17 pm EST

Anne Petty is a recognized Tolkien scholar and specialist in Mythology and Finnish folkore. She is the author of a dark fantasy novel, three books of literary criticism, and many essays on writing, literary analysis, and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. She is also a published poet, with poems, articles, and photos appearing in arts and lifestyle magazines. Anne is a frequent speaker at literary conferences such as the Florida Gulf Coast Writers and Storytellers Conference, the Florida First Coast Writers’ Conference, Seven Hills Writers Conference, and Florida Literary Arts Coalition. Visit annepetty.com

TheOneRing.net asked Anne to comment on the recent activity regarding The Hobbit, she was more than happy to oblige!

Would I prefer that Peter Jackson direct a film version of The Hobbit? Generally, yes, mostly because I'd like to see a continuity of the visual imagery and sense of place that Jackson established in the three Lord of the Rings films. I thought the way Jackon's Middle-earth looked and moved and sounded was breathtaking. It was also amazingly close to the way my imagination saw many of these places and events when I began reading the books so many years ago. For example, the film moment when the Rohirrim emerge onto the field of battle with Théoden's rousing battle cry ringing over the hills, still brings tears to my eyes. I think it would be unpleasantly jarring to see a very different depiction of Middle-earth at this point. Bringing back the entire New Zealand crew who so artfully brought Middle-earth to life would be a plus, in my opinion.

A case in point is the third Harry Potter film directed by Alfonso Cuarón. In that film, the familiar setting for Hogwarts was replaced by an incredibly precipitous landscape, especially the approach and immediate surroundings of Hagrid's hut, and the interior for the school we thought we knew so well emerged in highly disorienting camera angles with ”House of Usher" look and feel. The effect was so distracting that I found it hard to lose myself in the flow of events on the screen. The casual costuming and general direction of the children constituted somewhat of a culture shock as well. Cuarón's film is certainly as competent as any of the others in the series, but his vision of Hogwarts was so radically different that I had trouble relating to the characters as part of the established Potter universe.

I would also hate to think that someone other than Ian McKellen would be cast as Gandalf. I greatly enjoyed his nuanced portrayal of our favorite wizard and feel that anyone else's performance (however competent it might be) would suffer by being constantly compared to McKellen's gold standard. For example again, as others have pointed out, Michael Gambon's Dumbledore suffers by comparison with Richard Harris' portrayal. I might also mention that an unfortunate result of all the lengthy dithering over the Hobbit film rights is that Ian Holm is probably now too old to play Bilbo, even with the wonders of movie makeup, which is a considerable loss for the film.

If Jackson directs, I assume the same scriptwriters (Jackson, Boyens, Walsh) would be included on the project. This is the least positive element for me. I had serious issues with the way Jackson and his scriptwriters altered Tolkien's carefully wrought storyline. When you unravel a major thread, such as Faramir, many of the plot's other underpinnings come loose as well, resulting in skewed character motivations (Aragorn, anyone?). So, I have trepidations about this same trio adapting The Hobbit into a screenplay. There is a significant difference, however, that might make this a non-issue, and that is that The Hobbit is largely episodic with a single straight-ahead storyline. Also, the material does not have the gravitas of The Lord of the Rings until Thorin and company reach the Lonely Mountain. I feel that a large part of the problem with Jackson's LOTR adaptation was that the screenwriters simply lost control of Tolkien's complex storyline and every attempt to simplify it or reduce it only made things worse as they went along. This probably wouldn't be the case with The Hobbit. It's also possible that the frequent flattening of Tolkien's majestic prose into cringe-worthy banal movie dialogue wouldn't be as out of place in the lighter material of The Hobbit. It's also possible (maybe even probable) that different scriptwriters working for a different direct would do much worse.

So, with considerable caveats, I'd prefer to see Jackson & Company take on The Hobbit.

- Anne Petty

12-18-06 Latest News

TORN's voice on making The Hobbit happen
Tehanu @ 1:17 pm EST

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." So said Galadriel to Frodo in the film adaptation of Lord of the Rings.

It's a line that resonates strongly with us as people. It offers hope that the little man or woman can, indeed, triumph.

At TheOneRing.net, we firmly believe it ought to be our motto for The Hobbit.

If Lord of the Rings made "bongo bucks" for New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson and a lot of other people, it was in no small part due to the passionate enthusiasm of Tolkien fans worldwide -- lovers of JRR's incredible story who saw something similarly magical in the vision of Peter Jackson and the people who worked with him.

Yet it seems as though the parties involved in the Hobbit have forgotten that it's the fans who are the source of all the money they're currently fighting over.

Since Peter Jackson's and Fran Walsh's open letter to fans, we've witnessed a mass outpouring of disbelief and frustration at the current impasse -- and the thought that this might be the end of the Peter Jackson-New Line partnership. Jackson and Walsh proclaim that it is. But one wonders whether New Line is now carefully reconsidering its options.

Studios would be wise to listen to the rumblings of their core audience. After all, we saw what happened with The Hulk.

It might be that the number of fans who would actually boycott the Hobbit would be a small proportion of the total audience. Still, their influence on the merchanidise and DVD sales and repeat-viewing ticket sales is disproportionately large. Any studio - and director - understands that it's these people who make films profitable.

Not that we are endorsing a boycott.

For one, there's something to be said for New Line having the fortitude to commission Jackson to make a three-film series and - pretty much on faith - commit $300 million to the project. It was a gamble that, perhaps, could have left the company in financial difficulty had the films flopped. Indeed, considering the recent outcry, they must be considering the fiscal impact of not having Jackson and his people involved, and weighing that against their lawsuit with Wingnut.

In Jackson, they have a known quantity.

They have someone who has a strong rapport with the Tolkien community. They have someone who welded together a team of some of the world's most creative people who undoubtedly were the backbone of Lord of the Ring's success. And they have someone who turned an 'unfilmable' classic into a multiple Academy Award winning monster.

Not only would a new director have to expend energy building trust with the Tolkien community, a new director would have to build the film-making team anew as well. How much harder would it be for someone to involve Alan Lee or John Howe? To encourage Andy Serkis or Ian McKellen to come aboard? To convince Hugo Weaving to reprise Elrond? Would WETA even be able to be involved? Richard Taylor says that he sees no barrier, but would New Line be as sanguine?

All these considerations mean that an unwise choice by New Line could be very costly.

For these reasons we still hold out hope that the vision that New Line Cinema Co-Chairmen Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne showed with Lord of the Rings will prevail with The Hobbit.

However, we know that there are many bitterly disappointed fans out there who *are* endorsing a boycott.

That's your right - even if we might not agree with it.

The fact is, there are many views among Tolkien fans about what ought to happen with The Hobbit, and what ought to be done to make it happen. There are those who are pro Peter Jackson. There are those who don't care and just want The Hobbit made soon. There are even those who want anyone BUT Peter Jackson to direct.

TheOneRing.net is home to all these perspectives.

Which is why, as an editorial team, we feel it's our primary role to act as a facilitator and an information source. How you should act is for you: the fans, the readers, to decide, not for TheOneRing.net to dictate.

Like you, the fans, all of us at TheOneRing.net would dearly love to see JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit adapted into a film. And just like you, many of our staff hope to see Peter Jackson direct The Hobbit.

We don't claim that another director couldn't possibly do an amazing job with Tolkien's tale. But we believe it would be difficult, if not impossible, to recreate the same look and feel that Lord of the Rings possessed. And we know that many, many fans will be disappointed if Jackson isn't allowed to ëfinish' what he began.

New Line and MGM should keep the feelings of fans in mind. Because you, the fans, are also a part of this partnership who ultimately cannot be ignored.

- The Staff of TheOneRing.net

So what do you think of our editorial? Vote on our homepage poll or join the discussion on our forum.

Michael Martinez weighs in on The Hobbit
Tehanu @ 2:24 am EST

Xenite.org founder and Tolkien scholar Michael Martinez weighed in with his take on the Hobbit/PJ situation:

"I WOULD like to see Peter make the movie(s). It would be interesting to see his interpretation of THE HOBBIT, but I think it would be a neat experience for the same director to guide our cinematic vision of Middle-earth in one fell swoop. Although I believe there will eventually be more LoTR-based movies by other hands, I don't think we'll ever see another director given the opportunity to "sweep" the Tolkien books.

"As far as the settings for Middle-earth, much though I know many fans want to associate New Zealand with Tolkien's landscapes in their minds, I would not care so much about a different country as a vision that didn't remind me of Tolkien. Peter could have made Middle-earth look very different in his movies without changing settings. The magic is in part how the director moves through the landscape of the story.

"Maybe the hardest difference to swallow would be seeing another actor play Gandalf. I still have trouble thinking of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. Not because he isn't good as Dumbledore, but simply because Richard Harris defined the cinematic character for me. I've maintained ever since "Fellowship of the Ring" first screened that Ian McKellen is the perfect Gandalf.

"One more time with Peter, Ian, and whomever else could be drawn into the magic of Faerie from the first three movies would be good for me.

"Finally, if Saul Zaentz has figured out a way to explore more of the timeline, let him. I think we should see many, many Middle-earth movies. Some would be greater than others, but the material is there, waiting to be explored. We could erect no greater tribute to Tolkien's Art than to help it evolve into a new Art shaped by many minds."

12-17-06 Latest News

Jan 3rd 2007 - The toast is “The Professor” Tolkien Birthday Toast!
Celeborn @ 10:45 am EST

Press Release for Immediate Release

3rd January 2007
The toast is "The Professor"
Tolkien Birthday Toast!

At 9pm (local times) on January 3rd fans around the world are invited to raise a glass and toast J.R.R. Tolkien's Birthday

The Tolkien Society has a webpage where fans across the globe can let other fans know where they'll be celebrating if they're hosting a party, or just what particular tipple they'll be raising. Fans will be able to check the webpage and see who is celebrating where and if they wish to get in touch and join in.

The Birthday Toast event should be understood to consist of the saying of the toast and a drink (not necessarily alcoholic) of an individual's choice. The information posted by anybody on the Birthday Toast web pages will not be sold or passed on to any third party (outside of the context of the web pages and the 'Birthday Toast' event). Further details can be found at the website above.

The organisers do not condone drinking alcohol if it endangers the health or safety of the drinker or others, or contravenes the law.

Futher Details

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