Why will it take three movies to adapt 'The Hobbit'?

I’m having a bit of a math problem trying to figure out why director Peter Jackson needs to make three full-length motion pictures to tell the story of The Hobbit, the prequil of J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit was only one book while The Lord of the Rings was three books.

When Jackson made three Lord of the Rings movies, it make perfect sense; three books, three movies. What doesn’t make sense is taking a single book and turning it into three movies.

For comparison sake, I thought it would be interesting to see just how much material there was in each of the books. If one were to sit down and read all of the books, how long would it take? I found the following times from the unabridged audio version of each book:

  • The Hobbit – 3 hours and 42 minutes
  • The Fellowship of the Ring – 3 hours and 24 minutes
  • The Two Towers – 4 hours and 29 minutes
  • Return of the King – 3 hours and 11 minutes

The Lord of the Rings trilogy as written weighs in at over eleven hours of audio content. The Hobbit as written is less than four hours of audio content, yet I’m supposed to believe that Jackson needs the same amount of movie, three separate films, to tell both stories. I’m not buying it.

Literally, I’m not buying it. Not the super deluxe Blu-ray box set, not the extended director’s cuts, not even the theatrical release.

1 thought on “Why will it take three movies to adapt 'The Hobbit'?”

  1. Happy to answer!

    At first glance yes, you’d be right. Why and more importantly HOW would one book get turned into three? What many people haven’t realised, mainly those who haven’t read/watched/listened to PJ’s interviews is that much of what is “added on” can actually be found from the Appendices. When asked why three films PJ said that the Hobbit, as we all know, was written for his children. Its a kids book. After the success of the LOTR he actually decided that he would re-write the Hobbit to fit in with the darker and more intense (for lack of a better word) themes of LOTR. Unfortunately Tolkien passed away before he could add all his notes into the newer edition of the Hobbit that he’d made over the years from writing both LOTR and Hobbit. When writing the script for all three movies most of the additional stuff was sourced from there. The addition of Tauriel was to help draw in us female viewers, and add a little bit of balance. After all we had Arwen and Eowyn for LOTR so adding Tauriel seemed to be the smart move.

    Here’s an extra fact for you. Originally like the LOTR the Hobbit was actually set to be two films “An Unexpected Journey” and “There and back again.” However part way through post production of #1 they realised that if they were to condense it all into 2 films they’d not only be rushing the films but cutting out 3+ hours of footage, so in order to have more detail and for the film to make sense they expanded it into three.

    Seeing as you haven’t watched them yet I’ll add my two cents worth in. Me personally, absolutely LOVED them! Humor, Angst, Drama, Action, there’s an abundance of it and we’re only at number 2! Plus I don’t think anyone else could have been cast in the role of Bilbo, his portrayal is flawless. One thing I will say though is that many people complained about the “slow pace” for the first 45min-1hr of the film. Whilst I’ll agree that it’s not non-stop action as they seem to have been expecting, what they should have kept in mind was that when you’re making a movie and you have to introduce 13 dwarves, a hobbit and a wizard, knowing whose who isn’t really going to make sense if we briefly see them for 10 minutes before diving straight in. It just doesn’t happen. PJ’s goal was after their introductions and getting an idea of who they are, if you were to place them on a mountain and could only see their silhouettes you would know who everyone was. (certainly worked for me!) Also in LOTR we saw an abundance of hobbits, Elves and Men, but we only got little old Gimli, so I guess its also a way to establish the culture as well 🙂

    Apologies for the ramblings, I think I lost control of my nerd.

    Hope this helps and enjoy the movies! 😀

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