Sir Ian McKellen, Gandalf the Grey himself, has announced that casting is currently taking place for the “prequel” to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit”. To be shot in New Zealand and produced by Peter Jackson, there are expected to be two movies, shot back-to-back, and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, creator of the “Hellboy” series of films. Del Toro is living in Wellington, close by to Mr. Jackson, so it’s finally sealed, finally happening.
Perhaps the weirdest thing about this announcement is the mention of the second movie, which will be “an original story focusing on the 60 years between the book and the beginning of the Rings trilogy”. This will be the thing that gets the hardcore fans all crazygonuts, because it won’t be based on a Tolkien novel, and thus, the farthest out from canon. Oh, sure, there are probably a bunch of footnotes, detailing the events of those 60 years, but the idea of an original story not penned by the master just lends itself to such abuses that it makes one fearful for the result.
However, having said that, I cannot imagine the film in more capable hands than Jackson and Del Toro. The former LOTR director obviously cares a great deal about the source material, and Del Toro has proven his ability in creating original fantastical content with his “Pan’s Labyrinth”, which felt so authentic that I assumed at first that it was an adaptation of a pre-existing fairy tale, before discovering otherwise. So I’m bullish on this news, though I expect that for fanservice’s sake we’ll be seeing these stories bracketed by the return of the principal characters from the LOTR trilogy, telling the tales as they travel West on their Elven ships, to pass the time. That’s the part I’m not looking forward to seeing. I can’t bear to see the wistful, Emo face of Frodo Baggins, just on the verge of tears, ever again.
Finally, look at Peter Jackson lately. When’d he lose all that weight? And now that Del Toro will be living in close proximity to him, will he follow suit? Stay tuned, True Believer!