Last month Peter Jackson announced that his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit would be a three part epic instead of an originally planned two part journey. Since that news settled, Warner Bros. and MGM stepped out again to reveal the name of the new movie in the trilogy. So here it goes.
Part one, An Unexpected Journey, is still due out December 14 of this year. Part two, (drum roll please) The Desolation of Smaug, occupies the vacated space left by the originally planned sequel There And Back Again releasing almost exactly one year later on December 13, 2013. There And Back Again is now the name of the third film which will hit theatres in the summer on July 18, 2014. All three films will incorporate footage shot during principal photography which completed on July 5. Additional scenes will be shot for part three, which plans to incorporate expanded stories told in Tolkien’s appendices.
Peter Jackson is making it a point that his upcoming Hobbit story is indeed an unexpected journey. On Monday via Facebook he announced that his film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit is expanding from two movies to three. Here’s an excerpt from his statement:
It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’
Jackson will expand the Hobbit universe by using stories gathered in Tolkien’s additional appendices, a total of 125 pages the author inserted into a later publication of The Return of the King.
Part one, An Unexpected Journey, comes out December 14, 2012. Part two, There And Back Again, comes out one year later on December 13, 2013. Part three, still un-subtitled, will follow in Summer 2014. Jump after the break to read Jackson’s three-film statement in full.
Big, big news for fans of The Dark Tower. Deadline reports that Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have been granted the rights to the enormously epic Stephen King book series (there are seven in total). It is going to be adapted for the big and small screen with director Ron Howard at the helm. He will be joined by his A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code cohorts Akiva Goldsman (writer, Fringe) and Brian Grazer (producer, 24, Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development).
The unprecedented plan to adapt The Dark Tower to the screen has me choked up in excitement. A feature film will introduce the characters and universe to viewers. A TV series will follow the first movie and act as a bridge to the second movie. Next the sequel will hit theatres, then a second season will air on TV. Instead of acting as a bridge to the final movie in the trilogy, season 2 will focus on the backstory of a young Deschain (the main character). The last movie will pick up where the sequel left off, following a mature Deshain completing his journey. Whoever is going to play Deshain (rumor has it it’ll be a big name star) will be required to carry on his role in both the feature films and the TV series. Deadline points out that by using the same sets, cast, and crew on the movies and TV series the production team will contain costs on what promises to be an expensive undertaking. It’s been confirmed that Howard will direct and Goldsman will scribe the first feature film and TV season. Goldsman, Grazer, and King will serve as producers.
King originally approached JJ Abrams and Lost executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse with the idea of adapting The Dark Tower for the screen. According to Deadline they “never cracked the sprawling plotline and all the characters”, so Goldsman wasted no time contacting his partner-in-crime Howard with the notion of helming the project. Howard recalls Goldsman’s pitch: “Akiva said, ‘Stephen will not let go of it, but it’s like nothing else you’ve ever read.” Howard continued, “It was frustrating because it’s one of those works where you read it, and then at odd times, the imagery and sensations just pop up in your mind. This is going to be an amazing life experience for us, trying to do justice to the story and the universe.”
Howard shared with Deadline his thoughts on how his approach with adapting The Dark Tower compares to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring series: “What Peter did was a feat, cinematic history. The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.”
King also commented on today’s news: “I’ve been waiting for the right team to bring the characters and stories in these books to film and TV viewers around the world. Ron, Akiva, Brian along with Universal and NBC have a deep interest and passion for the The Dark Tower series and I know that will translate into an intriguing series of films and TV shows that respect the origins and the characters in The Dark Tower that fans have come to love.”
A shooting schedule has not been mapped out yet, but you can be damn sure I’m keeping my hear to the ground and will report back any and all information regarding the plans moving forward for The Dark Tower adaptation. For a major studio to sign on and agree to telling a story on two vastly different platforms is a rare, unprecedented feat. With Howard, Goldsman, and Grazer on board, I have no doubt the upcoming epic will impress.
Update: Stephen King sat down for an exclusive interview with EW and shared more thoughts on the project. Look after the break for the goods.
On October 26 the unforgettable Back to the Future trilogy will release on Blu-ray (for the very first time) and DVD. Though pricing details have not been disclosed, Hollywood News has picked up on the loads of bonus material. They include 16 deleted scenes, a six-part retrospective documentary with interviews by Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, director Robert Zemeckis, and making-of and archival featurettes. So if you happen to be a long-time BTTF fan, you’re gonna want to get this. (Click here for more…)