How Could the Remaining Hobbit Films Run Three Hours Apiece? Nine Theories From An Expert

Image by New Line Cinema, via the Hobbit Blog

Image by New Line Cinema, via the Hobbit Blog – Bombur is fat! It’s hilarious!

So, I finally saw The Hobbit last night. And while I have a lot of thoughts on the subject that I haven’t quite compiled yet, I do have some theories about how they might go about making the next two films last a comparable three hours apiece. You see, at first it was hard for me to imagine just what was going to be in film two–let alone three. Where are the stopping points? How will the narrative work? Which plotlines are we following? Why are the mountains fighting!? (Okay, that last one is another issue…) But I think I’ve figured some things out. I am, after all, an Expert in Hobbit Matters. I have a certificate. I swear.

I will say, I am a fan of the three-movie arc. I mean, more hobbits? I’m all for that. Doubtful? Fear not. After seeing the first film, and noting some of the pacing issues and drawn out scenes, I’ve have ventured deep into the darkest places of my imagination to provide you with some spectacular theories for the potential future films. You know, with the exception of The Empire Strikes Back I’d say second movies and second books are often the hardest to pull off… especially if you’ve only got one book (and ancillary bits here and there) to pull from. So these have to be really, really solid.

Without further ado, here’s nine theories that might fill in the six hours from there and back again:

Elaborate beard braiding scenes. There is a huge proliferation of dwarf hair in The Hobbit. And really, I understand. It’s the only way we can visually tell apart the dwarves, considering there’s thirteen of them and they’re all introduced at the same time. But I’ve spent a lot of time wondering just how Bombur got that single loop braid going, to say nothing of the elaborate coif of Dori. So the producers suggest some tutorials on the subject might be a good way to fill in some of the space, and collaborate with Pinterest to cross-promote. “Och, pin now, plait later!”

More songs! We already know that there’s some good voices among the dwarves. I will admit that the rendition of “Far Over Misty Mountains Cold” (embedded below) was one of the high points of the first film. But why stop at ancestral dirges? The screenwriters seem pretty keen on adding extra material, so how about some other musical numbers? Gandalf could sing “My Pointy Hat Trick” in a nod to an old Internet meme, or Bilbo could sing an ode to all his favorite foods, or an “Ode to a Lost Handkerchief.” With enough choreography and lyrics, that’d net at least ten or fifteen minutes.

A sexy stare-off between Kili and Thorin. There were lots of smoldering glances in the film, and the producers know their audience. Without Orlando Bloom to hold up the sexy factor throughout the entire Hobbit series, someone’s got to hold up the flag as reigning hottie. So the producers film a scene with Kili and Thorin in an enclosed cavern or something and just have the camera pan back and forth between sultry stares; they reason it’d be a great way to spin some tape and supply plenty of fodder for future memes. Of course, all that time gazing at each other’s amazing handsomeness, it means they eventually go seeking their human mother, because clearly they can’t be cut from the same fabric as the rest of the bulbous-nosed dwarves.

An epic poetry slam. Poetry was huge in the time of The Hobbit and Bilbo was one of its staunchest supporters. Jackson and company know this. Heck, you can even hear Tolkien reading his own work! But they have a feeling that old Mithrandir and Elrond know a thing or two about poetry slam contests. So they pit them against each other in the second film, and maybe even invite Thranduil along. The winner gets bragging rights and dibs on the first ship to the Undying Lands. Elves are magical, so they don’t have to even be in the same room. So a psychic/holographic poetry slam is born. There’s tons of material in Tolkien’s extended canon, so it really wouldn’t even require much in the way of work on the screenwriter’s parts. And that’s always a plus.

A half-hour flashback to Aragorn as a kid in Rivendell. As seasoned Tolkienists know well, our favorite Dunedain is around 87 years old when he first appears in The Lord of the Rings. Kids are a great demographic to reach, and since there’s only one hobbit, the producers decide that a side story of little Aragorn gamboling around Rivendell would be a great way to achieve that coveted niche.  Bonus, Arwen shows up as his nanny in disguise. Foreshadowing ftw! Plus, it makes for a great line of action figures for the under-5 crowd.

Old-School Arda. We’re talking The Silmarillion. Bilbo takes Gandalf aside and asks how this all happened, and we get an hour of the majesty of the long, detailed joy that is Tolkien’s most epic work. Forget all the elves with confusing “F” names, and forget the huge costs: it’s animated, a la the cutscenes from Dragon Age II. Cel shading. Minimal movement. It’s shiny! And informative. Two tastes that taste great together. And of course, they squeeze in a musical number or two. The whole universe was sung into existence, after all.

Upon arriving in Laketown, the producers could opt for an “in your seat” tour, where, like in the Star Tours ride in Disneyworld, you get a first-person view of the entire place. For approximately thirty-six minutes, you walk the streets, paddle boats, and look forlornly up at the Lonely Mountain. The 48 fps makes you feel like you’re actually there, and you don’t miss a single sparkle or shimmer on the water. They can also consider smell-o-vision, so you can smell the fetid fish rotting on the docks and smokey stench from Smaug.

Lots and lots of fat Bombur jokes. Really, it never stops being funny. So, rather than imbue the rotund dwarf with any recognizable personality, they opt for visual pranks instead. One includes Bombur getting all the way to the top of the Lonely Mountain, only to roll all the way down into a pile of, you guessed it, manure! Another features a feast scene where he eats for about twenty minutes straight, and the other dwarves take bets on when he finally barfs.

Twelve love interests for the dwarves. You know, there are dwarf women. There are even some glimpses of them in the first film. Oddly, the producers decided to forgo the bearded version. But hey, how about some wacky romantic comedy antics along the way? Hoping to cater to women (because, as we all know, while there are few women in LoTR there’s almost none in The Hobbit) and pass the Bechdel test, we are introduced to Thora, Dora, Ora, Nora, Bifa, Boffa, Bomba, Gloina, Oina, Filia, Kilia, Balina, and Dwalina. Their separate adventures trailing the men they are so devoted to, and their somewhat less exciting journey, takes up at least half of the other two films.

Okay, that’s the best I can come up with. What theories might you have?

39 Responses to How Could the Remaining Hobbit Films Run Three Hours Apiece? Nine Theories From An Expert

  1. I think it'd be pretty simple for Jackson to fill that time. There are two three-hour movies left for six hours total. Just show the main characters walking for five of those hours through various locales of Middle Earth. Then you just need a half-hour of something else per movie to justify the walking.

    (I'll admit it, in case you can't tell… I'm not an LOTR fan, and nearly walked out of the theater part-way through "Fellowship of the Ring" because I was so bored with the walking video map of Middle Earth. I did see all three of the LOTR films and read the books, but I just can't get into them. Consequently, "The Hobbit" trilogy holds absolutely no interest for me.)

    • You may not be a LotR fan, but my husband and I are, and my god were we p****d off at the fact that whole characters were cut out in favor of hours upon hours of panoramic scenes. So you, sir or ma'am, are not alone.

  2. I personally love the movie so far. LOTR was more of a epic movie. The hobbit is more of a laid back movie with lots of dialogue. I personally also loved the dialogue in it. But alot of people seem to hate it for that. Which are the same people that hate Lincoln for its long (really the whole movie) dialogue. In America I think we have become all OCD to some point. We want constant action and stuff in a movie to keep us busy and interested. Heck its the same in games really.

    Now, will the Hobbit series be better then LOTR? I doubt it. But its still pretty awesome to me. Only thing I don't care for is the singing all the time. I didn't mind they Misty mountain song because it was amazing and as I pictured. But the song when they were in Bilbo's kitchen drove me mad. It made me think "I sure hope they don't turn this into a child's movie!". Grant it the Hobbit book seemed more geared towards children.

    Also, one of the other reasons I like the movie is because it gives me glimpses into some well known characters before they were in LOTR. Although unless I missed it, I am still confused to what Galadriel and Gandalf hag going on before either book. Were they a couple when he was younger?

    • Well I admit I haven't got round to reading The Hobbit yet, but I read the TLOTR trilogy a while ago (4-5 years) and from what I remember there where lots, LOTS of songs… when I saw them in the movie I though it was only natural…

    • As someone who got into Tolkien from reading the Hobbit, I was glad to see some of the songs from the book which I missed in LOTR, hell I was even hoping to see Bert's talking wallet.

      Maybe ppl will think I'm being childish now, but hey life is more fun when you are being immature than when being all anal about weather things are too childish or lame :P

  3. I declare no spoiler alerts because if you haven't read the book by now it's your own fault.

    Movie 2: "The Desolation of Smaug" At the end of "An Unexpected Journey" the company was left injured and with little of their gear. They'll probably include a visit to Beorn for a rest (at which point Gandalf will take leave to go have more dealings with the White Council concerning Sauron ("The Necromancer") in Dol Guldur.

    Once rested the company will begin their journey through Mirkwood. While in the forest they'll get attacked by the giant spiders. Bilbo, wearing the Ring, will maim/kill many of these, driving them off, and cutting the Dwarves from the webs. Wandering away from the trail they will then be captured by the Wood Elves (Legolas' people). The Dwarves will be imprisoned while Bilbo once again sneaks around. He'll noticed the guards getting drunk off of wine (these guards may include or be lead by Evangeline Lily). He sneaks the Dwarves into the barrels and everyone rides down the barrels to Laketown.

    From Laketown they will make their way up the Lonely Mountain, find the door, and send Bilbo in to look around. Bilbo will steal a cup and find a missing scale in Smaug's armor; however, he will wake up Smaug. Smaug will then fly around and burninate things until Bard the Archer shoots an arrow through the spot with the missing scale. At this point the Dwarves will start resettling.

    Movie 3: "There and Back Again" After entering the mountain, the Dwarves start searching the treasure. Bilbo finds and hides the Arkenstone. The men of Laketown show up demanding payment for killing Smaug for them. The Wood Elves show up wanting a portion of the treasures as well. Dwarves from the northern mountains show up. Bilbo tries to use the Arkenstone as payment to prevent a war. This doesn't go over well. Gandalf comes back at this point (The White Council will have "driven" Sauron and the Nazgul out of Dol Guldur, although they instead leave of their own accord to settle in Mordor). He warns the 3 armies of an army of Orcs (probably led by Azog, that pale orc that kept hunting the company in "An Unexpected Journey". They start fighting, an army of eagles show up and turn the tide of battle (This is the Battle of Five Armies), and Thorin will kill Azog but be mortally wounded. Bunch of touchy-feely stuff, Bilbo goes home, grabbing that treasure chest the Dwarves buried in the troll cave. He arrives in time to see everyone trying to auction off his things, and he loses his spoons to the Sackville-Bagginses.

  4. I've heard a lot of complaints about the songs in both the LOTR and the Hobbit movie. But if you pick up the Hobbit, you'll find several songs and poems scattered throughout the book. That Dwarf song about what Bilbo hates is part of the book. I love that they're included. I feel that it would feel odd without having the songs in it.

    As far as filling the remaining time, well they're going to show where Gandalf disappears to in the Hobbit, heading up north with Ratagast to deal with that Necromancer. That should take a fair amount of time. Also, Peter Jackson loves to build up and spend time on his war scenes. Even though the War of Five Armies wasn't very long in the book, I am sure we can count on it filling most of the third movie.

  5. Personally I loved that movie. I loved the story, the dialogue, the characters and some people saying it's a story that goes no where which absolutely doesn't make any sense because it's only part of an entire movie. Yes it's a movie on it's own and the hobbit is being released in 3 parts but only when you watch all 3 together do you properly get to understand the story. They are just going from one place to a bit farther, just like the Fellowship the go from bag end to amin duil. Except in An Unexpected Journey they go from bag end to the borders of Mirkwood. It is kind of trying to start from The Two Towers and expecting to understand the story sure you would enjoy it but it wouldent make any sense because all the movies are really part of one big movie.

  6. I personally was pretty happy with the movie…the Eagles bit really bothered me. I expected to movie to end when Gandalf leaves them at the entrance to Mirkwood. Mirkwood and the escape from the elves could easily take up 2/3 of the next movie. Then end the movie after the feasts in Laketown and them heading to the mountain. Plenty or room left without throwing in a bunch of extra stuff.

  7. To "pilfer" means to steal, which doesn't really make sense in the context of your imagination (what you are "pilfering" above). Maybe "plumb" or "probe"? Or just "search"?

  8. If they add more music, they need to add (perhaps in the credits to the last movie)
    Leonard Nimoy singing The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins .
    They should make enough money in the first two films to pay Nimoy to reprise the song.

    • No they shouldn't.

      Though as long as the songs in the film are even remotely better than that horrid tune about Frodo of the Nine Fingers in the Bakshi animated LotR flim I will be just fine with them. ;)

  9. Funny how critics complain about movies, they often push for more artistic, deep story-lined movies with stunning visual effects. Yet, they get a wonderful movie like the Hobbit that delivers on all fronts and they criticize the crap out of it. The movie was great, sit back and enjoy the whole experience. If you want a 90 min piece of crap action movie, there is lots of garbage to choose from…if you want a real movie, watch The Hobbit.

  10. This article is absolutely ridiculous. What will they fill the rest of the movies with? How about s**t that actually appears in the book. There is no need for theories. Its all consolidated in to one place.

  11. I will say on a side note, I got worried after hearing about this 48fps thing. The first few minutes of the movie seemed…blurry. I couldn't make out what was going on around when the camera moved. But after about 10 minutes my eyes seemed to adjust to it.

    Also I didn't see the 3D version. I hate 3D movies. Last one I seen was probably in the late 90s and nothing really "stuck out" at me in 3D. Grant it I am sure technology has gotten better now. But still, how much can it really add to a movie? More so when most movies just pretend their movies are 3d. And aside from all that I find 3d movie ticket prices to be outrageous. Its not worth it. As it is I go to a Regal theater only on tuesdays when all movies are $5 (except the 3d ones).

    • You didn’t miss much with not viewing the 3D. I’ve seen it both in 3D and 2D, and the 3D leaves you with the feeling that you’re sitting on a chair just off stage for a TV show recording. I’ve heard a few people us the term “soap-opera-y” to describe it.

    • If you didn't see it in 3D, you definitely did not see it in 48 FPS. All 2D viewings are at 24 FPS, as are most of the 3D showings. You purposefully have to seek out a HFR 3D showing to see it all. So, there shouldn't have been anything weird or strange at all about what you were watching.

  12. Please, please no more singing!!! I have been wondering how a 300 page book could become a nine hour movie…maybe they;'ll throw in Tom Bombadil (who was absent from the first trilogy)….

  13. Better go read the Hobbit again before complaining about fighting mountains. Jackson embellished it, but it is in there.

  14. If the events of the Hobbit occur 60 years before Bilbo's One Hundred and Eleventieth Birthday, and Aragorn is 87 at that time, he would be 27 and probably wouldn't have a nanny.

  15. Honestly I hope they do not combine the simarlillion, children of hurin, unfinished tales, etc onto the hobbit series. I would like to see those stories on their own

    • They can't — the writers only have the rights to use material from LOTR, which includes the appendices, and The Hobbit. The other material cannot be used without a serious lawsuit.

  16. Quote: Of course, all that time gazing at each other’s amazing handsomeness, it means they eventually go seeking their human mother, because clearly they can’t be cut from the same fabric as the rest of the bulbous-nosed dwarves.
    Uh, problem here? Kili and Thorin aren't the siblings — Kili and Fili are. Thorin is their uncle. And all three are stunners, so you'd have to have a three way stare off. And sorry, but Thorin would win, he's got more practice than the boys ….

  17. I was rather disappointed with this article. When I saw thee title I was interested and thought it might be an intellectual discussion about how the movies could actually go, giving maybe a few pros and cons about places the second movie could end. etc. -much like one of the comments from @fourfiremichael was -but instead it is a filthy attempt to just be funny and to make fun of the franchise. I like funny stuff, when people are facetious about things, but this went beyond that into an immaturity that just had me rolling my eyes and thinking on the spot why the complaints -because that's what they come off as- are the result of shallow thinking and poor cinematic understanding -not to mention the lack of knowledge of what goes on between the front and back cover of the Hobbit.

    I've heard too many people whine about how on earth they are going to make three movies out of such a short book. Think about it. The book is short because it is written simply and concise as it is geared toward children -but an awful lot happens in those few pages. It was written for children, but that doesn't mean the content has to be childish and the movie has to be also for children. Following suit with the LotR series, which was more mature, while holding back and allowing for a little more lightheartedness is a brilliant way to pull these movies off, telling the story true to what's in its pages and paying homage to those of us who loved the LotR movies and love the epic fantasy cinema storytelling.

    How are they going to fill the next two movies? Simple: fill them with as much content from the book as they can fit without rushing the movie. When I first herd the Hobbit was coming out, I worried it would only be one movie if Jackson feared the anti-trilogy crowd who accuses him of stretching things out to wrench every cent out of it. I feared it would have to be short if he was afraid of the anti-3-hour-movie crowd for accusing him of again stretching things out. But I was glad that Jackson is a master artist and doesn't give a crap what these to douchey crowds think. The book as it is written is fast paced, the writing is concise, and there is no time spent detailing things out. This kind of writing does not translate to film, especially if we've already been given a glimpse of this world via some masterfully produced films already. If everything were to have happened in one film, there would be no time to character develop, to catch certain emotions, etc. It simply would be too fast paced. Go read @fourfiremichael description in the comments above where he points out the most logical movie breakdown. There are a lot of things that happen. The spiders, the Wood Elves, The escape from the wood elves, the Lake city, the battle with Smaug, the greed of the dwarves, the conflict between the five armies, the battle, the end of that conflict that Bilbo plays, not to mention the tie-ins with the LotR series and the stuff that is coming to fruition behind the scenes. How on earth could a real film critic think all that should be crammed into one movie just because the book is not that thick? Get real. Yeah there are a few things I could over-analyze and say "I would have made it this way", but I am not making the movies, and I'm glad Jackson has not done it my way or the way so many morons think would be better because they watch a lot of movies and think they know what a movie should and should not be like. I was thoroughly impressed and pleased with Jackson's retelling of this story. It is a good story, film is a great medium, and Jackson used film to retell this story in his own way which is pretty good considering he is the one with that high paying job and not me (and many others I refer to in my statements).

  18. okay people, allow me to settle this for you all. As both a Tolkien expert, as well as a film expert, being a film maker myself, this information was made public quite a long time ago. the first film, An Unexpected Journey, explores just under the first half of the book, and ends just after the eagles depart. the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, will pick up most likely with the chapter "Queer Lodgings", and the introduction to Beorn. It will end, with the end of the book. the third film will not take place within the pages of The Hobbit itself, but will be based on a number of Tolkiens own notes on the 60 years between The Hobbit and The Fellowship. An Unexpected Journey begins with Frodo bringing invitation responses to a party. But what party? Bilbo's birthday of corse, seeing as Frodo then runs off to meet Gandalf, as bilbo begins telling the story. one can only assume that as Bilbo finishes telling the story, of the past 60years, Frodo will meet up with Gandalf, which is exact ally how LOTR begins, is it not? So, the third film, There and Back Again, will be just that. A bridge of sorts, made to close in the gap between the stories.

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