Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
December 5, 2012

Elephants squish leprechauns.

That's...way more than seven dwarves.

Kim Hollis: Since the post-Thanksgiving weekend at the box office was as boring as ever, let's cheat again by skipping ahead two weeks. What are your thoughts and expectations for The Hobbit?

Jason Barney: I would say expectations for me continue to grow. I am not sure what the opening will be, but I hope it is going to be pretty big. I have found myself thinking about going back and watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In different places I have been, including work, people have mentioned a certain amount of anticipation around The Hobbit. I won't go see it opening night, but will probably go opening weekend. The only negative has been more than one person mentioning the drawing the storyline out to three different films. Perhaps it is what happened with Harry Potter and Twilight. I have heard a couple people talk about money grabbing with three films rather than just one.

However, I think there is a difference between these observations and the track record of the Lord of the Rings series. In almost every aspect those films were so beautifully done, so detailed, that I almost get the sense people want to see more of Peter Jackson's view of that universe. He earned A LOT of respect with his serious, dark, and truly real vision of the Lord of the Rings movies, so I tend to discount greed.

Even if it is three movies and all three make tons of money for everyone can put this one in the "art" category for me. Twilight and Harry Potter can't compare.

Edwin Davies: I'm cautiously optimistic, emphasis on the cautious. I yield to no man in my love of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (though, as per the rules of those films, I may yield to hobbits or women disguised as men) and am excited about revisiting Middle Earth, but I also can't see how they're going to make it three films. Three long-ass films at that. Lovely Bones aside, Peter Jackson has rarely set a foot wrong and I think he is capable of delivering great blockbuster entertainment, but I can't help but think that the Hobbit trilogy (I mean, how stupid does that sound? What next, a four-part, 12 hour adaptation of Catcher In The Rye?) will be a case of too little story stretched too thin, with admittedly dazzling effects.

Having said all that, I think it's going to be very, very big. It might not open to record-breaking numbers because of the time of year, but being the only blockbuster to come out over the Christmas period will help it wrack up some pretty high numbers. After all, it worked for Avatar. I wouldn't be surprised if 2012 produces its fourth $400 million movie.

Felix Quinonez: I can't even put into words how excited I am about this movie. I think the trailers look fantastic and I trust Peter Jackson wholeheartedly. (So much so that I can completely overlook The Lovely Bones.) As we all know this movie has been in production for a long time and has had more than its share of bad luck. For a time I almost thought it would never actually happen but I am very excited to head back to middle earth.

As far as box office goes, I see no reason why it doesn't match or get close to The Fellowship of the Ring. I really can't see it reaching the heights of Return of the King because I think some of the mainstream excitement that Lord of the Rings generated is gone. Plus since The Lord of the Rings franchise inspired so many imitators, the novelty of this type of movie is at least partially gone.

Shalimar Sahota: I'm actually completely indifferent to The Hobbit. I probably will watch it, but I'm not really feeling the excitement myself so am in no mad rush. I'm sure it'll open huge (I'm guessing somewhere around $85 - $95 million), but I do wonder whether any of the people that viewed the Lord of the Rings trilogy largely out of curiosity will want to return to Middle Earth. Or maybe I'm looking at this from the wrong angle and it has picked up even more fans from the books and DVDs and will do way better then I'm expecting. However, I am quite annoyed at the decision to split it up into three films. If you're going to go down that route then just turn it into a 12-part TV series!

When it comes to quality, like most people I'm worried that there is not enough story for three movies. But I think if anything the first movie will be terrific. And then we'll have to cross our fingers for the sequels.

Max Braden: Disclosure: although I played Dungeons & Dragons and read a couple dozen books in the Dragonlance series, I was a lot more ho-hum about Lord of the Rings than the rest of its target audience, so I already have a bias. But those were epic stories about the most climatic period in that world's history. The hobbit looks like the drab material that even a 600 page biography would leave out as too mundane. I like background stories, origin stories, and prequels, but there's a point at which not everything about hobbits is interesting. I haven't read the novel to know what happens, but there's nothing in the trailer that looks very exciting. An old dude and dudes with short legs will make for a very long walk. Plus, what a jerk Gandalf is, he's practically setting up Bilbo for trouble. I imagine I'll be impressed by the visuals but unmoved by the drama and pretty bored by the pace. I think there will be a significant portion of the audience that will feel the same, and without the starpower of the trilogy, The Hobbit will fall far short of Lord of the Rings.

Kim Hollis: I don't really think people saw the Lord of the Rings for the "star power" for what it's worth. Who's the star power there? Ian McKellen? Liv Tyler? Cate Blanchett? You can't tell me any of the hobbits were big names (including Elijah Wood) and Viggo Mortensen wasn't particularly well-known before the films, either. The same applies to Orlando Bloom, who hasn't done much of anything since Pirates/LOTR ended.

With all that said, I admit to being a Tolkien fangirl. I always loved The Hobbit more than The Lord of the Rings because I found Bilbo as a child - and truly, I see that as the primary difference between the two books. Both are adventures, but one is written to excite and engage children, while the other has a more complex plot involving politics and morality. The latter has already made big bucks and accrued loads of Oscar nominations and wins. Now, we're looking at a book that is really a pretty brisk read being turned into three films. As much as I love the source material, I'm struggling with the notion that Bilbo's story can be stretched into that much material. (I mean, really. Gollum is only in The Hobbit for a single chapter. How much will he factor in here?)

I thought that the first trailers for The Hobbit looked...below par. I dig the song of the dwarves, but at the same time, it's such a grim-sounding tone for a story that is fairly light in tone. The newest trailer is better by leaps and bounds, but I worry that the first one might have turned people off, especially more casual fans of the series. I think that Peter Jackson has probably earned this film a strong audience, and if the movie is good, it's going to be a stellar performer through the holiday season. It's not going to open huge - none of these films have due to playing time and somewhat limited early adoption. I would guess $50-60 million is the threshold there. More than anything, I'm worried about it not being good.

David Mumpower: In terms of quality/fanboy passion, I found The Lord of the Rings trilogy boring and overly long. I enjoyed The Two Towers better than the others while I have incessantly mocked the 73 endings of Return of the King for almost a decade now. I'm happy that others derive such happiness from them; they simply do nothing for me.

Ignoring the sequels for now, what intrigues me the most about The Hobbit is the 48 frames per second video. This "High Frame Rate 3D" has had a mixed reception thus far but I maintain optimism for now. In terms of revenue, I expect The Hobbit to experience the same issue as Avatar in that its length combined with December box office behavior should artificially deflate its box office. If not for those factors, we would be anticipating one of the largest opening weekends ever. Still, my lingering belief based on what I have seen from the trailers as well as the current buzz is that The Hobbit trilogy will damage the perception of the original trilogy.