The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and 48 FPS: More Tolkien In Store for Peter Jackson?

The Hobbit - Bilbo - Peter Jackson at Comic-Con

After bringing 12 minutes of The Hobbit to Comic-Con — where Peter Jackson purposefully did not present footage in the 48 frames per second/3-D presentation that perplexed audiences at CinemaCon — the Lord of the Rings filmmaker spoke further about his desire to explore even more ground in the fantasy universe created by J.R.R. Tolkien. One possibility may be a third Hobbit film culled from Tolkien’s expansive LOTR notes and appendices, though Jackson admitted that the author’s posthumously published Silmarillion might present more of a challenge.

Familiar faces filled the screen in the Hobbit preview, which gave Comic-Con fans glimpses of Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel, Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, and new cast member Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in the two-parter, which will hit screens in December 2012 and 2013. Speaking with press, Jackson acknowledged his choice to present the footage in 2-D rather than the 48 fps that earned mixed-to-negative buzz at CinemaCon. “We have to try to figure out ways to make this cinematic experience much more spectacular, more immersive,” he said. “But you know, Hall H isn’t the place to do it.”

Neither is showing just ten minutes of footage in 48 fps an adequate way to introduce the format to thousands of uninitiated fans who may not even be used to big screen 3-D, he insisted. CinemaCon seems to have also taught Jackson not to let 48 fps overshadow the actual film at hand. “I didn’t want to repeat the CinemaCon experience where literally people see this reel and all they write about is 48 frames a second. That doesn’t do us any good. It doesn’t do 48 fps any good. To accurately judge that, you really need to sit down and watch the entire film.”

The Hobbit Peter Jackson

Meanwhile, Jackson and collaborators Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh are in the early stages of looking at a potential third Hobbit film based on the vast 125-page appendices in Tolkien’s Return of the King, some of which was used to flesh out The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

“Philippa and Fran and I have been talking to the studio about the other things we haven’t been able to shoot and seeing if we can possibly persuade them to do a few more weeks of shooting — possibly more than a few weeks, actually — a bit of additional shooting next year,” Jackson said. “There are other parts of the story that we’d like to tell that we haven’t had the chance to tell yet.”

Jackson looked to the additional Tolkien notes to fill in certain character backstories and events missing from the primary texts. “For instance, in The Hobbit where Gandalf mysteriously disappears for chapters on end and it’s not really explained in any detail where he’s gone, much later Tolkien fleshed those out in these appendices,” he explained. “It was altogether a lot more dark and more serious than what was written in The Hobbit. And I do want to make a series of movies that run together so if any crazy lunatic wants to watch them all together in a row, there will be a consistency of tone.”

A completist’s cinematic tour of the LOTR world might include Tolkien’s Silmarillion, a collection of universe-building mythology edited and posthumously published by Tolkien’s son Christopher in 1977. The problem, Jackson says, is in who controls the rights to the work. “The Silmarillion is the big volume, but that’s owned by the Tolkien estate," he said. "It’s not owned by Warner Bros. or MGM — and I don’t think the Tolkien estate are very fond of these movies, so I wouldn’t expect to see The Silmarillion any time soon.”

Read more from Comic-Con 2012 here.

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Comments

  • Jake says:

    In other words, the studio realizes people don't like 3D or 48 frames because it looks bad, so now they are going to give us what looks best, 24 frames in 2D. Smart move.

    I'm sure they will still release the film in limited theaters in 3D at 48 frames so they can pretend to still be pushing the technology, but most will watch it in the preferred format.

    "No really, it only takes like ten minutes to get used to how bad it looks. That's why we made the first ten minutes of The Hobbit boring and unimportant, to give you time to adjust to the ugliness of the image."

    • Spanky says:

      You sir are a blithering idiot

      • Michael says:

        Spanky, YOU are the idiot if you think 48fps and 3d look good.

        • Jason Died says:

          Not a fan of 3D, but 48 frames look amazing... like a 60 fps video game. Seemless movements and effects, what's not to like? Normal movies look like they're in slo mo by comparison.

          • 3D in my opinion does look like crap, but yes, Jason, the frame rate is not what gives a video a type of cinema look. I'm a filmmaker so i can tell you that cause i know my stuff. 48fps is ok to view in so is 24, 25, and thirty even.. when actualy shot well.

      • Jake says:

        I watch a lot of video at 60 frames and it looks BAD. That's not being a blithering idiot. That's personal experience. It looks unnatural and I'm clearly not the only person to think that.

        Nice try, Spanky, but the grown ups are talking.

        Here is a ball to play with. Good boy.

  • ejjames says:

    Messing with the 24fps 'look' of film is a slippery slope. I don't need, or want a film that looks like a 'fluid' home movie.

  • Christoph says:

    Wait the Tolkien estate doesn't like the movies? They couldn't have hoped for a better, grander, more faithful film adaptation. I've read both the books and seen the movies, and honestly I'm not a big fan of either (I appreciated them more than I enjoyed them) so I feel somewhat impartial in saying that.

    • TheGM says:

      They don't like the deal they got. It turned out to be a lot bigger than they thought it would when they made the deal with MGM.

  • Tommy says:

    I can't believe how closed minded some of you are. I for one praise Peter Jackson for shooting it both at 48 fps and 3D because he's doing something new. Surely the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand will look amazing shot in 3D adding immersion to the Hobbit universe. But for those of you still stuck in the stone age don't threat as come release time you'll still have the choice of the tired old 24fps 2D version. So why are you complaining?
    .

    • Andrew says:

      48 fps could be a good thing, a great thing maybe, but I don't know as I have never seen a movie in 48 fps. 3D, on the other hand, is something that really does not impress me. It doesn't mean I'm "Stuck in the stone age" because I don't like it. It darkens the screen significantly, it costs twice as much, it's usually pointless and distracting, and it can give you headaches. 3D is a gimmick.

      • Tommy says:

        I can appreciate if someone doesn't like 3D, I happen to love it, but really that's beside the point. My main gripe is with people complaining about the existence of 3D when they actually do have a choice to see it in 2D if that's what they prefer. If you don't like 3D then don't watch it, but why flood virtually every forum about how it shouldn't even exist, etc. That’s just stupid.

        • Andrew says:

          Fair enough, but at my theater I can't watch IMAX because those movies are almost always exclusively in 3D.

  • Aaaa Bnbbb says:

    Red flags going up everywhere.

  • B_Smith says:

    I'm on the fence about the higher frame rate. I bought a new high-def television about six months ago, and it had the weird "TruMotion" setting turned on. I started watching Avatar (in 2D...not paying another $1,000 for that crap), and it just looked...wrong. Everything was too smooth for my tastes, and it looked cheap and low-budget, like Cameron had shot it with a dumpy little handheld camera. When I turned the TruMotion off, I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe my eyes and brain are just wired to enjoy the ol' 24 fps more because it makes movies look like MOVIES, not Discovery Channel documentaries. That said, the smoothing effect looks amazing with wildlife shows and "real life" footage. You cannot honestly tell me that you'd want to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark in 48 fps...blech.

  • nsr says:

    He should re-shoot the Scouring of the Shire, if anything.

    It really does change the meaning and impact of the book - and reduces that impact in the movie. Having watched it again and again, it's a big abscense. He could fix it with 15 minutes, and one battle scene.

    • anonymous says:

      I'm fine with him leaving it out. The movie was already a bit too long. Another 15 minutes would have been too much.

    • casual observor says:

      Excellent point, that was one of my favorite parts of the book. It gave a more realistic insight as to how people going through war don't just come home to roses and parades. Much of Europe was completely devastated after WWII and many veterans had years of work just to achieve normalcy upon their return. The book really spoke to me, and the movie ending was very flat and Hollywood.

  • goodterling says:

    People have got to start NOTICING the glaring deficiencies of 24 fps. Watch the slow panning shots in your bazillion dollar IMAX movies. They chug along like a car on bad gas. It's the panning shots where you really notice it, not the fast action shots where motion blur blessedly takes over. There's NOTHING magical about 24fps. They went with that standard back in the day to save on film costs. We will look back on 24fps and wonder why the hell we stuck with it for so long.

    And for god's sake stop comparing TruMotion crap your TV does to shooting natively in 48 fps. Nobody should ever subject any video they care about to the synthesized frames of TruMotion. Your TV is guessing at 30 fps and getting it wrong a lot. It's chock full of video artifacts. Maybe your eye doesn't pick them out individually, but your brain knows it's being lied to.

    • max says:

      Maybe the "magic" of 24fps is in helping humans with the necessary suspension of disbelief to see movies as "better than life" and not just a window into the same world, dressed up. Sure, panning shots and scenery will look nicer, but it's the character drama that will be the real test. Test audiences from The Hobbit have said they notice the makeup, costumes, sets more in 48fps than in the illusionary look of 24fps. But I have an open mind about it and perhaps it will all look spectacular. (Except the 3D, which I dislike greatly.)

      • anonymous says:

        Test audiences described it as looking like a soap opera. Maybe it will look different when its finished but if it still looks like that then it doesn't sound like an improvement to me.

  • wohdin says:

    I think that a Silmarillion film would be absolutely disastrous. It's simply not something that you can put into film, I believe. With film, there needs to be some sort of narrative; The Silmarillion was never really a "narrative" of any sort - it's more of an Elvish "bible" than anything, a series of historical annals, written for the primary purpose of building a world, not so much to tell a story. Something like that would be impossible to turn into a movie, and they would waste so much time and money trying. At the most, they could very loosely adapt certain key elements into a new story, or tie them into other films (e.g., The Hobbit, although they seem to be doing this).

    • Couldn't agree more about the Silmarillion, not only is a not a traditional narrative its extremely complicted and dark in tone (you'd need a dozen films at least to do it justice and unlike LOTR, there's lots of interelated stories-the background of which can't be skipped without being confusing), with precoius few links to LOTR or the hobbit (many of which were left out of the films anyway), dense langauge and numerous 'plot holes'. A film would have to change so much to be commercial it wouldn't even be the Silmarillion, much more than any of Tolkien's other works its always seemed to me to be a book for fans, a film would have to be so different it would alienate its sole audience.

      I LOVE the book but have absolutely zero interest in seeing a film of it.

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