Controversy surrounded The Hobbit trilogy from the beginning, but as the films came out fans noticed they were certainly lacking Peter Jackson’s epic touch, and a new video reveals why the films turned out the way they did.
Guillermo Del Toro was originally set to direct The Hobbit films, but as production kept being stalled, he finally had to drop out as director to work on other films he had scheduled. This is when Peter Jackson had to decide if they would look for another director, or if he would direct the films himself.
He explains the very difficult and stressful situation in the below clip from the special features section of the Battle of the Five Armies Blu-ray, and we’ve transcribed a few of the most interesting quotes to dissect them.
“Because Guillermo Del Toro had to leave and I jumped in and took over, we didn’t wind the clock back a year and a half and give me a year and a half prep to design the movie, which was different to what he was doing. It was impossible, and as a result of it being impossible I just started shooting the movie with most of it not prepped at all.”
We knew there was a quick turnaround from Del Toro to Jackson, but after Guillermo had 18 months to prep the films at the beginning, Jackson had only been writing with his writing partners. He explains that he was going on set simply winging it near the end of shooting, without storyboards (which help prep scenes to be shot) and the rest of his team was also playing catchup.
“You’re going on to a set and you’re winging it, you’ve got these massively complicated scenes, no storyboards and you’re making it up there and then on the spot […] I spent most of The Hobbit feeling like I was not on top of it […] even from a script point of view Fran [Walsh], Philippa [Boyens] and I hadn’t got the entire scripts written to our satisfaction so that was a very high pressure situation.”
As for the battle in the final film, Jackson says that they had to allow two months of shooting for that in 2012, but then he reveals a very unique decision in the quote below.
“We had allowed two months of shooting for that in 2012, and at some point when we were approaching that I went to our producers and the studio and said: ‘Because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing now, because I haven’t got storyboards and prep, why don’t we just finish earlier?’ So, what that delay gives you is time for the director to clear his head and have some quiet time for inspiration to come about the battle, and start to really put something together.”
It’s crazy to think that Jackson was working on what ended up being three films which cost over $700 million to make, and yet he was coming to work nearly everyday without knowing what shots he’d be doing. Even the most talented director would have a difficult time churning out three massive studio films, especially with him being hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer near the beginning of filming.
The Hobbit trilogy doesn’t stand up against The Lord of the Rings trilogy in any way, they’re seen as popcorn flicks which used way too much CGI and many of the characters were lost in the mess that was on screen. But, it seems Jackson had no choice with the studio not allowing them to delay production any longer.
It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see what Guillermo Del Toro’s films would have looked liked, but it’s an even bigger shame that Jackson got put into a situation which forced him to make subpar films out of a beloved novel.