After the wild success of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, a two-film adaptation of The Hobbit, with Jackson as executive producer, seemed like a surefire smash. But the highly anticipated prequel has been hobbled by major setbacks since pre-production began more than two years ago. Money has run low, visionary director Guillermo Del Toro has quit, and now Hollywood's major unions and other actors' guilds have advised members to boycott the film, claiming producers have thwarted local organizing efforts in New Zealand, where The Hobbit is being filmed. Jackson denies it and is threatening to move the set to eastern Europe. Should he just give up on the troubled production instead? (Watch a report about The Hobbit delays)
Yes, the world doesn't need another botched prequel: "This is Peter Jackson's chance to do the right thing and shut down The Hobbit — for good," says Kyle Buchanan at New York. From the Star Wars prequels to Ghostbusters 3, Hollywood has a long, ugly tradition of highly anticipated, long-delayed projects that are ultimately big disappointments. While "it's admirable that Jackson has kept The Hobbit alive despite its constant setbacks," the "depleted director" should avoid getting behind the camera out of a sense of misguided obligation.
"Should Peter Jackson give up on The Hobbit?"
No, there's too much at stake: "Don't take all that backstage drama to mean disaster for fans," says Leslie Gornstein at E Online. With del Toro out, Peter Jackson will likely step up to direct. As you may recall, his previous little films about "J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth earned close to $3 billion at the worldwide box office — plus a record-breaking pile of Oscars." And the producers have invested a fortune designing the creatures and sets — they won't just walk away from films Lord of the Rings fans are desperate to see.
"Is The Hobbit movie doomed—or just fine?"
If Jackson ditches New Zealand, moviegoers should stay away: Sir Peter Jackson claims the local union — the kiwi branch of an Australian guild — is trying to "bully" both him and New Zealand actors, says John Minto at Stuff.co.nz. But that is just a "fantasy." He is the bad guy here, because he wants to deny fair compensation for those in the New Zealand film industry. It's time to call his bluff. If he abandons New Zealand, the world should "boycott" these films.
"Jackson's Hobbit fantasy"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
- Why does Fareed Zakaria still have a job?
- 4 simple steaks you can cook in a pan
- Does solar energy have a battery problem?
- How U2 became the new Nickelback
Subscribe to the Week