Thursday, 29 November 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #970: Dear Pete

An Open Letter To Peter Jackson.

Dear Pete.

I can call you Pete, right?

Okay, Mr. Jackson.

I'm writing to you because I'm worried. I'm worried about The Hobbit, and I'm worried about you.

I started worrying when you announced that you were stretching The Hobbit out to two movies, and I got really worried when you then announced that you were achieving new heights of Procrustean excess by trying to make a book that was shorter than the slimmest volume of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy into a trilogy of big budget epics, scouring the appendices Tolkien included in The Return Of The King for extra material.

I can understand the studio wanting to do it, they see the money being made by extending the last Harry Potter and Twilight books into 2 movies apiece and think that the fans will shell out the big bucks for anything from their beloved franchise, whether it's necessary or not. It's not much of a stretch for a studio to just assume that stretching out a comparatively slim book first into 2 movies, then 3 movies would be fine because the geeks will take their shit and call it ice cream as long as it's connected to the Lord of the Rings.

What I don't get is why you, Peter Jackson, the cinematic king of Middle Earth, would go along with it. 

You had a lot of clout, an enormous amount of clout, in the aftermath of LOTR, so folks would naturally expect you to put your foot down and make a stand for the "integrity of the narrative and the source material."

Except I fear that you may have spent that clout.  You got a record setting deal for your dream project remaking King Kong, and while it sold a lot of tickets and DVDs, the big budget, your cut of the rentals, and other factors made any profit margin wafer thin. Also it really wasn't the groundbreaking turning point in the cultural zeitgeist that LOTR was. Then came The Lovely Bones which was supposed to be your entry into mainstream Oscar-bait supremacy pretty much written off as a disaster by critics and audiences. (And let's not forget that you spent $70 million making, and $80 million promoting what was essentially a domestic drama with a thin veneer of the supernatural.)

The Adventures of Tintin, which you co-produced with fellow movie-mega-star did okay thanks to  foreign markets, but really didn't connect as well with the North American audience everyone hoped it would.

Sure, District 9 was a surprise hit, but most of the glory associated with its success fell on its director Neill Blomkamp. When you're dealing with Hollywood if you're not in the middle of the spotlight, you're in the dark.

So, I can understand you having some concerns about your ability to attract mega-million dollar paydays to maintain the lifestyle you've become accustomed to. 

Insecurity's a bitch, and in Hollywood it can be used as a weapon.

The studio logic dictates that they franchise out The Hobbit as much as they can get away with while avoiding paying any more money to the Tolkien Estate.

I have a theory as to how they convinced you to go along. They gave you the creative equivalent of a blank check.

Want to shoot it in 3D at 48 fps, because James Cameron says motion blur is bad, even though it can make things look like a soap opera from the 1970s?

Fine, go right ahead. The geeks will pay big money to see every episode and buy the merchandise just to complete the LOTR experience.

Want to take a long time to shoot?

Fine, go right ahead, we've already stated our reasons.

You see, the studio doesn't mind if you indulge yourself if they think they've got a sure thing like The Hobbit.

The studio doesn't care if the hard-core Tolkienistas think you're dry humping their favorite literary memories on a big pile of money. They saw Spielberg and Lucas rake in mega-bucks from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull even though nobody seems willing to admit to liking it, and they are screaming "ME TOO!" 

So you can see why I'm worried, Mr. Jackson.

Sincerely - Furious D.  

_________________

By the way, if you've ever wondered what if the great books of humanity's literary canon were made like modern movies, then you should read my Kindle E-Book STUDIO NOTES FOR LITERARY CLASSICS available from Amazon for $2.99 in the USA or £1.93 in the UK.  

1 comment:

Helen said...

"I started worrying when you announced that you were stretching The Hobbit out to two movies, and I got really worried when you then announced that you were achieving new heights of Procrustean excess by trying to make a book that was shorter than the slimmest volume of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy into a trilogy of big budget epics,"

Ditto. My enthusiasm evaporated when Guillermo del Toro pulled out and my cautious optimism evaporated when the news broke that it would be THREE movies. KING KONG pretty much killed my goodwill towards Jackson. I will, of course, still see THE HOBBIT- at least the first part.