‘The Hobbit’ at Comic-Con: Peter Jackson’s San Diego plan

July 11, 2012 | 6:02 p.m.

COMIC-CON: BURNING QUESTIONS

As we close in on the 2012 edition of Comic-Con International, we look at some of the burning questions that will be answered in San Diego.

thehobbit7 The Hobbit at Comic Con: Peter Jacksons San Diego plan

Peter Jackson on the set of “The Hobbit.” (Warner Bros.)

Does “The Hobbit” need a magic moment in Hall H?

Peter Jackson rarely hears grumbles from Middle-earth fans — just the opposite. “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy not enjoyed success in epic proportions, but it was also the rare triple-threat as far as box-office numbers,  industry awards and  critical acclaim. But in April, at a preview in Las Vegas,  reactions were divided about Jackson’s new Tolkien footage; it was screened at 48 frames per second (the norm is 24 frames) and in the view of some the added clarity actually sapped the majesty out of Middle-earth. The first part of the two-film adaptation hits theaters in December, but how is Jackson approaching this weekend? We reached him for a quick interview a few days ago.

comic con logo1 The Hobbit at Comic Con: Peter Jacksons San Diego plan

MORE COMIC-CON COVERAGE

HC: It would be silly to consider a July afternoon in San Diego as a make-or-break moment for a December release — especially one with the heritage, resources and global interest that “The Hobbit” has on its side. But it’d also be a mistake to underestimate the importance of reaching core fans. How would you frame the Hall H appearance as far as the stakes?

PJ: I think it’s more about protecting the downside, rather than helping the film in any significant way. There is a huge audience waiting to see “The Hobbit,” and any positive press from Comic-Con will truthfully have little impact on that. However, as we saw at CinemaCon earlier this year, with our 48 frames per second presentation, negative bloggers are the ones the mainstream press runs with and quotes from. I decided to screen the “Hobbit” reel at Comic-Con in 2-D and 24 frames per second, so the focus stays firmly with the content and not the technical stuff. If people want 3-D and 48fps, that choice will be there for them in December.

thehobbit The Hobbit at Comic Con: Peter Jacksons San Diego plan

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. (James Fisher / New Line Cinema / Warner Bros.)

HC: Even as well as you know Tolkien, I’m sure the process of making these two new films has presented you with new insights and connections with the material. What surprises have you found in Middle-earth or in the work of the bookshelf wizard?

PJ: As slight as people think the “Hobbit” novel is, compared to the “Lord of the Rings” books, we have been surprised at how rich the world is, and how many interesting themes and characters there are to explore. We are also using extensive parts of the appendices which were published at the end of “Return of the King.” This is not just “The Hobbit” — it’s “The Hobbit” set in a much greater context of events taking place throughout Middle-earth during this period. The material is so rich. In fact only this last week or two, we’ve been talking to the studio about allowing us to shoot some additional material next year, to fully complete the story.

HC: In some ways, Martin Freeman might have more weight on his shoulders than any single actor in the first trilogy. How would you say he’s handling it?

PJ: We adjusted our shooting schedule around Martin’s Sherlock TV series, to enable him to do the movie. We literally couldn’t think of any other actor in the world more perfect to play Bilbo Baggins. Get that casting wrong and the movie falls flat on its face. Martin knocks it out of the park.

HC: If you had one sentence — a take-away message — for the Middle-earth fans who don’t get a seat in Hall H, what would it be?

PJ: We’ve all loved returning to Middle-earth and now look forward to fans stepping back into this world with us.

– Geoff Boucher

[For the record, 8:27 p.m. July 11: Martin Freeman was misidentified in one of the photo captions that appeared in an earlier version of this post. 

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Comments


51 Responses to ‘The Hobbit’ at Comic-Con: Peter Jackson’s San Diego plan

  1. zeke says:

    Morgan Freeman? Really?

    • Pavel says:

      Martin*

    • kstone says:

      Martin Freeman is my favorite English actor. He's wonderful! Most noted for his role as Doctor Watson in the new, and wildly popular BBC series Sherlock — and also as Tim Canterbury in the original English version of The Office.He's smart, he can do humor and he's great as a serious actor. I'm confident he'll be truly fabulous as Frodo.

  2. James says:

    Not to point out the "technical stuff", but there are several grammatical mistakes in this article starting with the second sentence.

  3. Sam says:

    The photo cutline erroneously says "Morgan Freeman as Bilbo Baggins."

    The actual actor is Martin Freeman.

  4. not me says:

    Morgan Freeman? Try Martin Freeman. Sheesh.

  5. Greg hines says:

    Really, Morgan Freeman? How about Martin Freeman? News people are all idiots.

  6. Fan says:

    "Morgan Freeman as Bilbo Baggins??" tend to think Comic-Con woulda been WAY more popular.

  7. Mike D says:

    Under your photo of Bilbo you stated the name of the actor as Morgan Freeman would it should be Martin Freeman. I think there is a slight difference between the two, just maybe. :)

  8. Nitpicker Jones says:

    "Morgan Freeman as Bilbo Baggins" …. REALLY ? REALLY ?????

    • Geoff Boucher says:

      We got it right four or five times and messed it up once. That's hall of fame batting average in baseball

      • YeahThatsRight says:

        This isn't major league baseball, this is reading… it is much easier. You learn to do it in kindergarden

  9. charlie says:

    Morgan freeman lol

  10. Ben says:

    The picture says Morgan Freeman

  11. Eric says:

    I love the caption of the second image. It says "Morgan Freeman as Bilbo Baggins." HA

  12. Ooops? says:

    "Morgan Freeman as Bilbo Baggins"? Not exactly… More like Martin Freeman? Unless bilbo gained some street cred…

  13. Cassandra says:

    The second photo is captioned "Morgan Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. (James Fisher / New Line Cinema / Warner Bros.)"

    The actor is Martin Freeman, as you mention in the interview!

  14. John Jakes says:

    The caption on the second photo says 'Morgan' Freeman; should be Martin Freeman.

  15. Juan Valdez says:

    morgan freeman as bilbo looks a lot younger. amazing what makeup can do.

  16. Guest says:

    Morgan Freeman as Bilbo Baggins: I'm tired of this motherfucking dragon in this motherfucking mountain!!

  17. b random says:

    He looks a little pale to be Morgan Freeman. Just sayin…

  18. Guest says:

    Seriously? "Morgan" Freeman?

    Where are your editors?

  19. TommyTutone says:

    #correction: Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, not "Morgan Freeman"

  20. Kent Smith says:

    Surprising, number of typos in this piece. The Times used to be more carefully edited.

  21. David says:

    Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that you actually said Morgan Freeman instead of Martin Freeman…just in case you didn't know already. I mean that is a pretty HUGE mistake and should totally distract everyone from the entire article.

    Anyway….Thanks for the interview. I'm glad they aren't risking a negative critic storm with the 48fps showing.

  22. Austin says:

    All of you posters are idiots for commenting over and over again ad nauseum about a one word typo. Get an effing life, I feel sorry for the writer of this article having to go back and comment on morons. In a post unrelated to everyone else's I am curious to see what the film will look like since from as far as I could tell no one liked the picture quality before. And Arthur Dent as Bilbo that just seems awesome in its own right.

  23. Gabby says:

    Its Martin Freeman ! Didn't you watch Sherlock ?

    • Austin says:

      If you are referring to my comment, Arthur Dent is the role that Martin Freeman played in Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy where he was a reluctant hero character who was pretty neurotic, and he did a great job, him and Mos Def were fantastic in my opinion.

  24. guest says:

    Guess I have to make the obligatory correction as well: Morgan Freeman????? aarrrgh

    Now that that is out of the way. I can't wait for the movie. I'm not too keen on 3D, but the 48fps is a step in the right direction. 10 years from now, now one will believe that anyone ever watched flms at 24fps.

  25. Scrunchie says:

    Uhh…in the hobbit photo it says "Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins" – surely you mean Morgan Freeman??

  26. kidditto says:

    Tom Bombadil! Tom Bombadil!!!

  27. Dale says:

    wow you'd think after the first one, ppl would stop commenting about that morgan freeman error. unless they all commented at the same time :|

    In any case thanks for the article. you asked some good questions.

    so amped for The Hobbit!!

  28. Brian says:

    Well, maybe Bilbo Baggins was black

  29. zosofan says:

    I love how everybody trolls on this informative article because of a typo. Must be some repressed anger from their school years in English class.

    I think it is interesting that the film will be shown at 24FPS in 2D at comic-con. I will be interested to compare the two.

  30. Diane says:

    Great column, wonderful insights, fabulous quotes. Yet all people can do is harp on one (obvious) error.

  31. Elwin says:

    Wow, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins? Jeez, don't you recognize MORGAN Freeman when you see him?

  32. Richard Kimbe says:

    This is ridiculous. He is shooting this film in 48fps and decides to show it in 24fps due to fear of bloggers. WTF? Have some courage.

  33. DanShire says:

    Why did Peter Jackson let his photo be taken of himself walking through the Hobbit door? Is he worshipping himself? What a hubristic arrogant head-case. He should stop listening to his yes men or yes women and just focus on making a good film.

  34. Artwell says:

    and Martin Freeman as Lucius Fox

  35. Reader666 says:

    If you can get around to correcting MARTIN FREEMAN's name, why not fix the other typos, too? There are no journalism standards at Hero Complex, apparently. I have seen this article reprinted by other media and thought I would link to the original version on my blog, but now I am embarrassed to do so and will use one of the other outlets' versions.

    There has never been any question that the very-talented and perfectly-cast Martin Freeman would hit it out of the park, as Jackson says, but it's still nice to read it here. Cannot wait for this film.

  36. Reader666again says:

    Apparently you need someone to point out errrors to you. Okay, here is one to start things off: “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy not enjoyed…

    LA Times is really losing my respect here.

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