Will 'The Hobbit' Help Peter Jackson Get His Groove Back?
Filming for two movies based on The Hobbit finally began on March 20. Guillermo del Toro was originally set to direct the films, with Peter Jackson only showing interest in producing the titles. However, with del Toro leaving the production last year, Jackson has once again stepped into the director’s seat. At first it seemed Jackson was somewhat done with Middle Earth. He was still willing to produce, but he had already been extremely successful with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It seemed he wanted to take a break from the land of the hobbits.
Jackson followed LOTR with King Kong, a big-budget remake, which like LOTR, was already known to mass audiences. In 2009, Jackson’s next directorial effort went a different direction. Though still an adaptation, The Lovely Bones, was far less-known source material. Possibly for this and other reasons, Bones failed to receive the critical recognition or box office success of LOTR. Between these two films Jackson was set to direct a movie based on the video game series Halo, which as of now still hasn’t happened, and he also produced the interesting sci-fi invasion film District 9. Well, Jackson’s “break” from middle earth had gone on for a while.
With del Toro leaving the production in 2010, Jackson decided it was time to return to middle earth. Who better to direct The Hobbit than someone who was so successful in directing the entire LOTR trilogy? And having just come off a movie that wasn’t wildly successful, The Hobbit might be just what Jackson needs to get back on track as a major film director. Many of the same actors are returning to the film to reprise their middle earth roles.
Though somewhat easy territory for Jackson to step back into, directing The Hobbit films presents an interesting feat. Jackson will have control over the entire Lord of the Rings universe. Rarely has one director been responsible for the entire catalogue of a fictional universe. Even George Lucas didn’t direct all of the Star Wars films. And unless somebody adapts one of the more obscure books in Tolkien’s catalogue, like The Silmarillion, Jackson doesn’t have to worry about anybody messing with his adapted universe.
Yet, as time passes by, Peter Jackson continues to drift away from the type of movies that defined him as a young director. Jackson’s first movie, Bad Taste,was a humorous alien invasion horror film. Thought similarly themed, it was quite the opposite of District 9. With the exception of the drama Heavenly Creatures, humorous horror films defined Jackson all the way up until The Frighteners, starring Michael J. Fox. Early on it seemed these were the kind of movies Jackson was most interested in.
It isn’t clear if Jackson has any interest in returning to this type of film or if his status as a Big Hollywood Director is somewhat preventing this side of Jackson, but one thing is certain, Jackson probably won’t be returning there any time soon, if at all. Well, maybe Jackson has matured in these 20 or so years and is more concerned with being a “serious” director. Or, maybe he wants to do another Braindead but the studios won’t allow it. Once Middle Earth is tapped, after the two Hobbit films, Jackson won’t have anywhere else to go but to original material, like he used to do, or more adaptations, like he has continually done recently.
As a fan of the early films, it would be nice to see Jackson return to horror films that don’t take themselves too seriously. If he is going to return to Tolkien, I don’t see why he shouldn’t return to the types of movies he specialized in early on. But for Jackson maybe this would be a step backwards with no benefits. The Hobbit is almost a guaranteed success. Making another movie like Bad Taste, now that he has studios breathing down his neck, might not be such an easy thing to do.
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