Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jackson Does Hobbits

What recent film trilogy will be spitting hot celluloid acid into the face of wannabe copycat films for the next 3 decades? The Lord of the Rings trilogy, of course.

You may be aware that there was a novel preceding The Lord of the Rings (which Tolkien didn't actually think of as a trilogy, by the way) called "The Hobbit." This is where we first see the One Ring and meet Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf. Hell, even Balin, Gimli's younger cousin, is represented here. I won't go into the storyline, as you probably already know it. If not, tell me where you live and I will come over and beat you over the head with the book.

Needless to say, based on the enormous success of the Peter Jackson films, which put New Zealand back on the map for most people this side of the international date line, New Line Cinemas has been wanting to do two more Tolkien films with Mr. Jackson at the helm. It seems however, that there was some *gasp* shady back curtain dealings that prevented Mr. Jackson from only reaping $500 million dollars instead of $750 million dollars - these aren't real figures, I can't back this up on paper. Peter was pissed and sued New Line, and New Line told him to suck eggs and said they didn't want to do the next two films. There was a collective shudder for Tolkien fans.

Fast forward to today, and we find that the Saul Zaentz production company will get the rights to film by the end of next year if New Line fails to make the movie. Saul had made the animated versions of these tales back in the 70s. You may also be familiar with the name as it the eponymous studio put out such greats as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Amadeus", "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", "The Mosquito Coast", and "The English Patient." The studio seems to be a better match all around. It's known for quality films, and was the pioneer in bringing Tolkien's words to the silver screen. Additionally, Zaentz wants Jackson do to the films should the studio get the rights. Sweeeeeet.

What's real cool for me is that when I worked in Emeryville, a bunch of us would eat lunch in the area of the studio. I always knew it for Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, and thought it was so cool that this was the house that made them.

Do you care? Is this your cup of tea? Maybe not. I have a very good friend who just doesn't feel these kinds of movies, and in fact made the cardinal sin of walking out on one of the best films to come out in the 80s: David Lynch's "Dune." We still speak. Poor guy...what are you going to do - stop speaking to your friend because he doesn't like sand worms?

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