8. The 1966 Animated Version of The Hobbit That Ends With Bilbo's Wedding
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBnVL1Y2src So years ago you purchased the movie rights to a little-known children's novel at a cheap price, but they are about to expire in a few short months. Then a wildly popular sequel to that novel is released, making those movie rights very valuable. Animation producer William L. Snyder found himself in this position in 1966 because he purchased the movie rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit for a few thousand dollars several years before, but they were about to expire if he did not utilize them. The contract specified that Snyder would lose the rights if he did not "produce a full-color motion picture version" of The Hobbit by June 30, 1966. Considering that around this time The Hobbit's sequel The Lord of the Rings became a worldwide bestseller, Snyder's rights were extremely valuable and he didn't want them to revert back to Tolkien. Snyder asked animator Gene Deitch to create an animated short that he could screen in order to maintain the film rights. This is because, as Deitch later wrote on his website
: "Please note: did not say it had to be an animated movie, and it not say how long the film had to be!" In one month Deitch whipped up a 12 minute animated adaptation of The Hobbit, which was screened in a single theater in Manhattan on the exact day Snyder's rights were set to expire. As a result, Snyder's maintained ownership of the movie rights. Though it is "animated," the short is made up of still drawings and the story and dialogue are all done by a single narrator. If you're wary of Peter Jackson's extensive changes to The Hobbit for his current film series, you ought to know that this short completely changes most of the storyline (including renaming Smaug to Slag and adding a princess as a love interest for Bilbo). Still, it's a remarkably charming short that features some amusing artwork, especially considering the low budget. In 2012, Snyder's son Adam posted the short to YouTube, so you can see it for yourself. According to Deitch, Snyder later sold the rights for $100,000 (of which Deitch saw nothing), which eventually resulted in the feature-length 1977 animated version by Rankin/Bass and, decades later, the current live-action series.