In a very revealing behind the scenes video, Peter Jackson has spoken honestly of the uphill slog of filming The Hobbit trilogy and seemingly shed light on the decision to split what was once two films into three - a decision lambasted by the majority of the fans as a studio cash-grab, but now seemingly could actually have come from Jackson himself. Admitting to being left with no prep time after Guillermo Del Toro left the helm unexpectedly in pre-production, Jackson is seen in the clip below looking decidedly browbeaten and weathered on the set of two back-to-back blockbusters.
When you go onto a set, very complicated - youre winging it. Youve got nothing to go on - no storyboards, no pre-viz. Youve got these massively complicated scenes and youre just making it up there and then on the spot I spent so much of The Hobbit feeling like I was not on top of it. The fact that I hadnt much prep and I was making it up as i went along. Even from a script point of view, Philippa and Fran and I hadnt really got the entire scripts written all the way through to our satisfaction so that was a very high pressure situation.
While it was easy to decry the decision to split the film into three as a studio mandate at the time, with Jackson playing along in the press, it can now realistically have been the director who suggested it. The timeline matches up; in the video embedded below, we see a clip of the Battle of the Five Armies being filmed; the date on it reads May 2012. We see Andy Serkis get the call that 2nd Unit shooting is going to wrap early, and pick up again the following year. Two months later, in July, Peter Jackson himself broke the news that the series was going to be split into three films, as it was "a tale that grew in the telling".
What's very likely happened here is that Jackson decided to delay the 2nd Unit, then had a month's breather, then came to an agreement with the studio that having a third film would also give them more time to get things right. Then, boom, in July, the news hits. This uncommonly frank bonus feature on the upcoming The Battle Of The Five Armies Extended Edition Blu-ray (that some enterprising YouTuber has uploaded) has shed some really interesting light on a facet of The Hobbit's production that was previously uncertain, and it is refreshing to not have to sit through yet another studio-ass-kissing extra on a home entertainment release.
That said, perhaps PJ was desperate to show the fans exactly how much the deck was stacked against the crew so that they forgive him for what a mediocre product the return trip to Middle Earth ended up being...
What do you think? Does the tight production schedule forgive the poor quality of the trilogy? Was the decision to go from two films to three a wise one? Sound off in the comments below.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Editionis released in the UK on 23rd November.
Cinephile since 1993, aged 4, when he saw his very first film in the cinema - Jurassic Park - which is also evidence of damn fine parenting. World champion at Six Degrees of Separation. Lender of DVDs to cheap mates. Connoisseur of Marvel Comics and its Cinematic Universe.