Saturday, April 16, 2011

There and back again (and again and again)

As a lifelong Tolkien fan, I've got to mention the upcoming movie of The Hobbit, or There and back again. At the tender age of 9, this book served as my introduction to Middle Earth. I discovered it just before summer vacation and, when my mother sent me to spend the summer with my father, I went straight to the local library and checked it out so I could read it again. I read it several times that summer, but I didn't realize there was more until the following school year. That was when I discovered The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien was my constant companion through middle school and for the first couple years of high school. I always had one of his books with me, most frequently The Fellowship of the Ring because that was my favorite. Later on, I lost touch with those books. My life fell apart in ways that I won't bore you with, and then real world responsibilities piled up so high that I barely had time to breathe, much less read or write.

I heard that Peter Jackson was making The Lord of the Rings back in 1999 (?) I think, and I was skeptical. I'd seen movie adaptations of Tolkien's work before. It wasn't until the first teasers came out that I started to get excited. I remember seeing the location shots and some of the concept art. Then I saw interviews with PJ and finally, the first official trailer. I went a little crazy. I started spending hours online, landing most often at TheOneRing.Net, which seems to be about the best LOTR related site out there. I bought collectibles (yes I still have the cheesy Burger King crystal mugs with light-up bottoms and yes, I also have Glamdring, Gandalf's sword.)

Eventually the epic commercialization of the films got to me, and I quit buying that crap just because of the principle. But I was still enthralled with Peter Jackson's work, and despite the minor changes he made to the story, I still applaud his reverence for Tolkien's work. This was the first time any Hollywood film treated the genre with even a modicum of dignity. And it worked. To the tune of about $300 Billion. With a "B". Not bad for an investment of less than $300 million.

After the box office success of LOTR I never doubted they'd make The Hobbit. Frankly, I'm surprised it has taken so long. With that much money on the table, you'd think these Hollywood types would be all over it. Strangely, the studio had difficulties finding and keeping a producer among a myriad other problems. Finally, it seems that Peter Jackson is back at the helm and filming is started, this time with a budget of $500 million and a script for TWO movies. Hmm. Andy Serkis will be back as Gollum (as it should be) and Ian McKellen as Gandalf. Rumors are that many of the other LOTR actors will have cameo appearances as well, and there's no telling what PJ has in mind since he's stretching this story out into two films. Things are starting to move, and I'm getting that familiar old feeling. Somebody hide my credit cards. And Burger King, please.... no more mugs.


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