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7 Rules for Making THE HOBBIT Movie

The Hobbit is poised for production. Del Toro, heed these words

By Mason Brown     November 19, 2009

7 Rules for Making THE HOBBIT
© Mania/ Robert Trate


The Lord of the Rings movies grossed almost $3 billion, so it's no surprise New Line wants to head to Middle Earth in quest for box office gold.   Luckily for them, the LOTR prequel's already been written, and it's a beloved classic. In December 2011, The Hobbit will hit the theaters, followed by another hobbit movie in 2012.
There's only one problem... The Hobbit is a children's book.  And as anyone who ever took a 6-year-old to see Return of the King can tell you, the Lord of the Rings movies are not kid-friendly. So what should be done? It's easy. Screw the kids!   And follow these seven suggestions to make The Hobbit a great movie for adults:

7. Make It One Movie

Sure, the Lord of the Rings was three movies. But then again, it was three books! So it made sense to divvy it up.   Simple rule... "one book, one movie."  And in the case of the Silmarillion, "one book, no movie." 
The initial plan was reportedly for The Hobbit to be one movie, and for the second movie to be a "bridge film" that took viewers from the end of the hobbit to the beginning of the Lord of the Rings. That actually sounded kind of cool. We could see events only hinted about, like Gollum's trip to Mordor and Aragorn's watch on the shire. And speaking of awesome tales that never got fully told...  what about Gandalf teaming up with Saruman to drive out the Necromancer from his dark hold in Dol Goldur? All great stuff, perfect for a separate distinct second movie.  
But that's not what they're doing.
Now the official word from director Guillermo Del Toro is that "the work is enormous and encompasses more than one film. That's why we are thinking of the TWO INSTALLMENTS as parts of a single NARRATIVE".   Whatever. Capitalize your words however you want, Guillermo, but The Hobbit is one not-particularly-long book with no logical breaking point. To stretch it out into two movies is gonna suck.

6. Toughen Up the Elves 

In the LOTR movies, the Elves kick ass. Legolas kills and kills again. Agent Smith runs Rivendell. Galadriel has a magic ring and she's not afraid to use it, and Haldir leads a troop of Elven archers into Helm's Deep... a place they never even went to in the book.     
But in The Hobbit, the Elves are constantly singing gaily. Here's a sample from their first song.
O! What are you seeking?
And where are you making?
The faggots are reeking,
the bannocks are breaking!
O! tril-lil-lil-lolly
the valley is jolly,
ha! ha!
Stuff a sock into your Lembas-holes and pipe down! Even the Keebler elf has more dignity than to sing that crap all day. 
But there is hope. By the end of the book, the wood Elves (under the command of Legolas' dad, King Thranduil) lead the charge in the Battle of the Five Armies, and their spearmen stain the rocks black with Goblin-blood. Those Elves mean business!

5. Toughen Up the Orcs

For some reason, the Orcs in The Hobbit are called Goblins. Lame. 
"Orcs" are scary. "Goblins" are silly. And they sing stupid Goblin songs, which are only slightly less gay than their Elven counterparts. Although in their defense, Goblins have magnificent baritone voices. Or at least they did in the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit:
Sure, these Orcs aren't the awesome Uruk Hai Orcs that Saruman bred.   And they're not even top-of-the-line fighting Orcs from mordor.   These are undoubtedly the weaker, sun-hating Misty Mountain Orcs that menace the Fellowship of the ring in Moria.   But they're still Orcs!   Make them tough!

4. Toss Some Dwarves

We may need to break out some Mithril to protect ourselves after this suggestion, but honestly... do we need all 12 dwarves? 
Snow White had seven dwarves and that was too many. The Hobbit features Dori, Nori, Dwalin, Balin, Oin, Gloin, Fili, Kili, Bofur, Bifur, Thorin, and Bombur. Anymore little people and I'd think I was watching The Wizard of Oz. Or that strange show on TLC.   So why not get rid of a few?  
Of course, you'd need to keep Thorin, son of Thror, son of Thrain. After all, he is the direct heir of the last king under the mountain. And he actually has a fully-formed character... he is a greedy, proud, stubborn, wonderful dwarf.  
And Bombur is necessary for comic relief.  He's fat, and therefore funny.   He has to stay. And Gloin is Gimli's dad, so he has to be in the film too.
But the rest of the dwarves are pointless. Lose Dori and Nori. Or Balin and Dwalin.  To try to realize just how many dwarves there are, take a look at how they are introduced in the Rankin/Bass animated feature:

3. Keep Leonard Nimoy Away From the Soundtrack!

Yes, Nimoy's version of "Bilbo Baggins" is the greatest music video in history (except perhaps for the DaVinyls "I Touch Myself").   But it's also exactly the wrong note for the new Hobbit movie.     
This is exactly the light-hearted silliness that makes The Hobbit fun to read as a child, but hard to sit through in a feature-length film. Unless Nimoy plays Gandalf. No offense to Ian McKellen, but that would be awesome.

2. Trolls Should Not Turn to Stone In Sunlight

Small point, and yes, it gets explained in the appendix of the Lord of the Rings... but why do the trolls in The Hobbit turn to stone when the sun comes up, yet the trolls who go to war for Sauron fight fine at midday?   Different breeds? Puh-lease. The real answer is that Tolkien wrote The Hobbit as a kids’ tale, but he needed tougher trolls for LOTR.
That being said, Gandalf's "different voices" trick during the encounter with the trolls is a great moment. But this scene should finish off differently. Preferably violently.

1. Make Smaug Scary!

It goes without saying, but "Smaug the Magnificent" needs to be magnificent.   Here's how Smaug describes himself: "My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!"   Of course, Smaug neglects to mention the bare patch on his left breast, but overall his description is accurate. 
Smaug doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He killed almost all of the original Dwarves living under the Lonely Mountain, and that was when he was young and weaker. He lays waste to most of a mountain-side searching for Bilbo. He totally trashes Esgaroth in a rage. And but for the valor of Bard, he probably would have ended up screwing up an entire front during the final war with Sauron in LOTR.   Gandalf himself later said: "Think of what might have been. Dragon-fire and savage swords in Eriador!"  One shudders at the prospect.
Let's face it... that's one tough dragon! He better be good!
Fortunately, this is one area that Guillermo Del Toro is on top of. He is on record saying that his favorite dragon is Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer. That's a good sign. He could have said "Falkor" from The Neverending Story.

Note to Del Toro: We all know what happens in 2012, and we want to see part two before we all die in a Mayan apocalypse.   So hurry up and make both movies now!

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About our writer
MASON BROWN is a writer/actor/Tolkien-nerd living in Los Angeles. He was managing editor of the National Lampoon back when it only sort of sucked, and later wrote bubbles for "Blind Date." He has also story produced several reality shows, including "Daisy of Love", "For the Love of Ray J", and "I Love Money".


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mortellan 11/19/2009 1:32:21 AM

I don't agree with all those and it was a silly article so it may be for that reason. The Hobbit is definitely not an enourmous narrative. Heck its only 1/2 the size of one LotR novel and those were made into 3 hr movies. Now I don't think that means the Hobbit should be 90 minutes long but it could be, especially if the movie isn't packed with 90 minutes of CGI fluff.  Also you can't cut down on the number of dwarves because it defeats the purpose of adding Bilbo to be the lucky number. Now from a script standpoint I'm sure that many dwarves will be a nightmare for a movie. We saw plenty of tacked on comedy relief from just ONE dwarf last time. Now 12 dwarves, many of which have very little actual dialogue in the books? Yikes.

ThemanG01 11/19/2009 3:39:30 AM

I think most of the points on this list are wrong.

StarlightGuard 11/19/2009 4:15:14 AM

we're gonna trust a guy who produces VH1 reality shows? one who produces dating romantic shows? what's next, The Fabulous Life Of MIddle-Earth?

EvilMonkey 11/19/2009 6:04:15 AM

You can't throw out Balin.  He is the dwarf who goes to reclaim Moria and it his tomb they find there.


Orvs vs Goblins:  there was actually a throw-away line in the Rankin & Bass where Sam says "Orcs, 'Ol Bilbo called them goblins, but whatever the name I loathe the vile creatures."


I can see it being two movies if they are going to add stuff that was mentioned but not seen in the book.  Plus adding stuff to bridge the gap (from the silmarilion I believe).

DarthDuck 11/19/2009 6:17:59 AM

a lot of hostility on Mania this morning...

kinetoscope 11/19/2009 6:22:29 AM

Some of your points were good.  I can't see changing major plot points: the number of dwarfs, the trolls turning to stone, even the singing elves, it can be done in a strong way, like the singing done in the previous LOTR movies by Vigo.  I didn't laugh at his singing or think that he was any less manly. 

I hope they are able to stay as close to the source as possible.  I think they can make Smog pretty cool and very scary if they really work it.  They will likely aim for the same target audience.  I will be praying on my knees that they don't try the George Lucas Phantom trick at aiming for kids knowing that they older generation will go no matter what. But, I feel that they will aim for the same age range.

I look forward to the riddles.

ddiaz28 11/19/2009 6:35:45 AM

I trust that Guillermo and Peter have a strong grasp on the source material and what the fans want to see.  There is no way they will make it a kid's movie. 

I still like that it is two films.  Even though the second is no longer a bridge, I'm still hoping they include what Gandalf is doing since it is occuring at the same time. 

And come on?  Is anyone really worried about how amazing Smaug will be with Weta in charge?  He's going to be sick!

I just hope once they see how awesome they can do dragons, they decide to start adapting His Majesty's Dragon into a film or series.

Walker 11/19/2009 7:07:21 AM

This is clearly a piece written by someone who is not a fan.  The trolls comment is ridiculous -- that is too major a scene to touch.

isgrimner 11/19/2009 7:15:20 AM

 I agree with a few, but think some of the suggested changes are unneeded. The Hobbit shouldn't be as dark as TLotR. It was a much lighter adventure story. They should play it straight to the source material. So keep all the dwarves, even if some are just there in the background mostly. Keep the "stone" trolls. I don't care if you call them Orcs or Goblins, we are called man and human, two words same meaning basically, either is fine.

One thing I do agree with is to keep the Hobbit portion as one movie. The whole dual movie thing comes across as a money grab to me. In my mind the studio is probably thinking, why have one blockbuster movie when you can have two?

Oh and I also think Smaug should be scary and bad-ass.



By the way, it was searching for info about the original LotR trilogy back in late '99 or early '00 that I even found Cinescape or what ever it was called back then. Wasn't it called something else even before Cinescape?

TheStormrider 11/19/2009 7:58:32 AM

Lets ban the use of LOL unless the person actually laughed out loud.

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