By most accounts, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was awesome. Hugely successful upon their release both critically and commercially, they won a combined 17 Academy Awards including Best Picture and grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide. Fast forward about ten years, and the praise towards Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy has been considerably fainter despite its healthy box office receipts. Most of the criticism launched towards these new films revolves around Jackson's decision to stretch a relatively short novel into THREE epic film chapters. Extraneous subplots, superfluous dialogue, and new characters that did not exist in Tolkien's original text have all been stuffed into this new Middle Earth trilogy. What's more, many of the practical visual effects and beautiful real-world scenery of the original trilogy have given way to prequels that look and feel like high-end video games. Sometimes these CG effects work remarkably well and sometimes they look incredibly fake.
So what does all this mean? These new Hobbit films are practically begging for a proper fanedit. For those of you who don't know what that is, a fanedit is a version of a film that has been modified by a viewer in order to create a new interpretation of the source material (thanks Wikipedia). After watching An Unexpected Journey in 2012 and finding myself let down by Jackson's new vision, I decided to undertake my very first fanedit by re-working the Hobbit films.
That being said, I have been working on a “purist” version of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, with the ultimate goal of creating an alternate film that is as faithful to the original book as possible. I have read about a number of other editors making their own versions and I’m sure my edit will be one of several floating around by the time the third film is on video. However, many of the versions being worked on now still plan to include scenes/characters/elements that were not in the book. What’s more, there are versions being made that are not using the highest quality source media available- an HD 1080p Bluray with 5.1 audio. This is what I am editing with and I feel that these are films that deserve to be seen in HD, regardless of what version you're watching.
As I mentioned previously, I am planning to edit the Hobbit trilogy into ONE MOVIE. This will indeed make for a long film, but let’s not forget that Return of the King Extended Edition was 240 minutes long! That will probably be the running time for JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit (that’s the new version title I’m going with). An old-school Intermission will split the film in half in order to make it more accessible, however.
Anyways, as of January 2015 I am about 95% finished with both An Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug. AUJ originally had a runtime of 170 minutes and has now been cut down to around 90 minutes. DOS was originally 161 minutes and is just under 80 minutes now. Battle of the Five Armies is 144 minutes and after having watched it twice in theatres, I have no doubt it can be cut down to 60-70 minutes or less!
Obviously, I cannot finish this fanedit until the third film is released on Bluray, most likely in April 2015. Although I will begin editing that film right away, I probably will not release a final version until the Extended Edition of Battle of Five Armies is released in November 2015. More details and updates are sure to come- you can follow Maple Films on Facebook or come back to this site for further info. Also, feel free to leave questions, comments or suggestions in the comments below!
I believe there is one truly good Hobbit film buried underneath three not-so-good ones, and that is the film that I'm trying to bring out with this fanedit!
Click here to read my detailed list of edits for An Unexpected Journey
Click here to read my detailed list of edits for The Desolation of Smaug
Video clips from JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit