Peter Jackson Admits He Didn't Know What He Was Doing With The Hobbit

Jackson worked 21-hour days during production on the movies.


Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson had three and a half years to prepare his telling of Tolkien's classic trilogy, but he didn't have the same luxury when he replaced Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro on The Hobbit.

The behind-the-scenes revelation in the Battle of the Five Armies DVD was posted to YouTube by Joshalots. In the video (which we assume will be taken down soon), Jackson and others who worked on the movies talk about the stark difference in prep time between The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The director took over for del Toro in 2010 and according to the video said that he spent much of his time on The Hobbit feeling like he wasn't on top of it.

When del Toro left the director's chair on The Hobbit, Jackson, and with him came a different vision for the Lord of the Rings prequel, which called for big changes to the movie and its production.

"We started all over again from scratch and redesigned the movie for Peter," said conceptual designer John Howe.

"[When] I jumped in and took over, we didn't wind the clock back a year and a half and give me a year and a half prep to design the movie," said Jackson, who only had a few months before shooting began. "[It] was impossible, and as a result of it being impossible I just started shooting the movie with most of it not prepped at all."

Jackson said he "didn't know what the hell he was doing," resorting to winging it with no storyboards and making it up on the spot as he went. He was able to do this up to the point where he had to shoot the titular Battle of the Five Armies.

After attempting to shoot the battle scene, Jackson realized that he needed to halt production and prepare storyboards to properly film the scene.

"I couldn't wing that, really, I did need to know what the hell I was doing and have a plan," said the award-winning director. "And so what that delay, any delay, gives you is it gives the director time to just clear his head and actually have some quiet time to sit and just wait for those bits of inspiration to come about the battle that you've got coming up and start to put something together."

The Hobbit film series was a financial hit, coming close to $3 billion in the box office, but it didn't meet the highly positive critical response that Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy did. The first two movies in the prequel series were adapted to a Lego video game, which received a score of 5 in GameSpot's review. Warner Bros. told GameSpot back in March that there are no plans to release DLC to add a Lego-fied version of Battle of the Five Armies to Lego The Hobbit.

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Avatar image for grimcrotch

that must be where the Naga farting the Barney song came from.

Avatar image for Stiler

This series just felt like he was going through the motions, it felt like he didn't have his heart in it like LOTR did.

The over-use of CGI also really hurt it imo. The Goblins/Orcs should have been like LOTR where they used REAL people with makeup and prosthetics, there was absolutely no reason to make them CGI and it's one of the reasons it just looks so fake vs LOTR.

Avatar image for naryanrobinson

And it really showed.

Avatar image for Elranzer

tl;dr: Warner Bros approached Jackson and said: "Turn this short book into a 9-hour movie trilogy."

Avatar image for sapienecks

Now we know why the Hobbit wasn't good as LOTR. Though, I don't know why Peter Jackson couldn't take three years to prepare for the Hobbit. Does anybody know why?

Avatar image for JRLennis

@sapienecks: Watch the video attached to this article. It explains everything quite well. In short, the studio was already committed to begin production on a certain date, and Jackson was forced to make due with the ideas he had. He was not in a good position. All things considered, it's remarkable that the Hobbit films turned out as well as they did. Most films with this kind of behind-the-scenes drama turn into complete trainwrecks.

Avatar image for Zzshock

@sapienecks: maybe it was also because a less epic tale was streatched out as much as the LotR was shortened.

Avatar image for Shantmaster_K

Definitely disappointing compared to LotR

Avatar image for nadsat-77

No comparisom to the Lords of the Rings that's for sure.

Avatar image for madsnakehhh
madsnakehhh could tell the movies weren't that great...i mean they definitely do not have the same charm that the original trilogy has...still, they have some very fun parts and some very cool scenes and i really liked the last one, even the first one had some epic scenes, second one was pretty mediocre at best.

Avatar image for cfscorpio

Well that explains why the Hobbit movies were all bad.

Avatar image for steamboat78


Avatar image for hystavito

@steamboat78: Yesterday I was getting it for some pages and not others, today it's been all so far. It popped up here and there in the past too. I don't like it.

Avatar image for Slyster1181

I liked The Hobbit more than Lord of the Rings. However what I didnt like was that you really couldnt get a feel for any of the characters. The movie also didnt have the sense of adventure that should have been there but was overtaken by trying to force action action action. Also the love story between Elf and Dwarf didnt exist and quite frankly was dumb.

Avatar image for the-gigacrusher

Why is this here..... Talk about video games not movies. People who say The Hobbit movies are shit have no idea what they're talking about plain and simple. How about actually watching ALL the behind the scenes footage and you'll see the hard work he put into it. Just because he admits he was having a hard time during one part of filming doesn't mean you can create an article saying "Jackson says he didn't know jackshit about filming The Hobbit" and giving non-educated haters a reason to rant "Yeah it sucked because it sucked and it was bad and I didn't like it cause it sucked and yeah bad movie was bad".

Avatar image for lukeuseforce

@the-gigacrusher: Since when does the audience have to be "educated"? The majority of the viewers found The Hobbit to be less than Lotr. Much less , IMO. Sitting for another umteen hours watching all their "hard work" behind the scenes, while interesting, won't change my opinion on how much the trilogy stank. Peee uuuu, smelly. It really seemed like a lotr wannabe, instead of standing on its own legs. And, by Jackson's words, I see why.

Avatar image for gamedelay

@the-gigacrusher: His hard work doesn't mean I enjoyed the movies. I was so turned off by the first one, I fell asleep in the theater. So do I know what I'm talking about? Yes, I do. I'm talking about my reaction to the movie. I didn't like it. I thought it was week. I thought it lacked the charm and wonder of the novel, and I have zero interest in watching the films in the future.

And it's pretty clear I'm not alone in this. How you can regard that as "non-educated" is beyond me. This isn't a matter of education (which I have far too much of), but of taste, and the Hobbit didn't taste very good. (I'm trying to work in some joke about vomiting the films up--you know, "There and back again"?)

Avatar image for megawalrus

From the first 10 minutes of the first movie on through to the last, it got progressively worse to the point of the 3rd one being akin to stabbing yourself in the eye.

Avatar image for nickes

Jackson should've just backed out of it if he had any pride for what he did with the LOTR and respect for the book (The Hobbit). Clearly New Line Cinema saw The Hobbit as just another cash cow and not only did they milk it til it bled, they put make up on it, taught it stupid tricks and paraded it all over town. The whole thing was stretched and changed beyond recognition to the material it was based on. All they managed to accomplish was take artistic liberties to the highest level and in the worst possible direction.

Avatar image for simulacraman

@nickes: There were plenty of clues to that approach in TLOTR. I don't know why Jackson felt he had to put his stamp on the books by reversing just about every character and their motivation. I still have all three of the special editions, though. So much for that.

Avatar image for Barighm

I don't really blame Jackson for this one. He was kind of forced into it, and there was a lot of fallout he had to deal with, plus the original book was never all that great in the first place.

Avatar image for steadymercury

I really didn't like The Hobbit. Loved the original movie trilogy but I don't think I ever saw that last part of The Hobbit, it isn't on my list either unless it comes to Netflix. The Hobbit was my favorite book of the four as well so it's not like I'm one of the movie fans who was unprepared to deal with the different pacing The Hobbit has.

Avatar image for elessarGObonzo

if they hadn't added Legolas or that dumbass Dwarf-Elf love story or the terrible part with Gandalf "fighting" the Necromancer or added content to the meeting in Rivendale or the other 6 hours of filler content it maybe could have been okay even with the terrible actors no one had ever seen or heard of and the horrible CGI

i'll still take the Bass-Rankin and Bakshi films over Jackson's any day.

Avatar image for lokar82

@elessarGObonzo: I don't think the Bakshi film gets near enough credit.

Avatar image for deactivated-5d14bade6a0c4

All 6 movies are awesome to me.

Avatar image for waelse1

Terrific book. First film was OK but failed to finish the second, and have no desire to see the third. Wasted opportunity.

Avatar image for bfa1509

The first one was ok, the last 2 were complete CGI bullshit.

Avatar image for davillain-

@bfa1509: The 3rd one felt like he copy Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor game as well but in a god way, I was okay with that since I enjoy Shadow of Mordor.

Avatar image for davillain-

He didn't even want to do it initially and would have stuck with the producer credit instead. He was essentially forced into it after other directors that were offered it decided that they didn't want to do it.

Avatar image for xolivierx

The Hobbit....all 3 movies are easily on my ''worse 50 movies I have ever seen'' list.

It was stupid, pointless, and it made no sense.

Avatar image for Zzshock

@xolivierx: sounds like you have seen a lot of bad movies in order to populate a list of the 50 worst...

Avatar image for Oogazi

@xolivierx: You either have not seen a lot of movies, or have been very lucky in not seeing a lot of very bad ones. The trilogy was bad, but it wasn't THAT bad.

Avatar image for ahpuck

The Hobbit was like CoD, all graphics and noise with absolutely zero soul.

Avatar image for nl_skipper

Nothing like letting it all out after you've made a couple billion :p

Sounds like the movie turned out pretty well all things considered, though I felt like they were only average at best... the only thing that really sticks out in my mind now is the rock giants fighting in the first film... everything else is a boring blur, and most of the action scenes just felt silly.

Avatar image for JoGargos

I LOVED the book as a child but I could not see the 3 movies due to plain boredom...A shame indeed.

Avatar image for Hurvl

It turned out really well all things considered, especially with this in mind (21-hour days!? That's terrible!), but I also liked the Star Wars prequel movies. The prequels weren't as good as the original trilogy, but I think that the Hobbit trilogy came closer to LoTR's quality than the Star Wars prequels.

Avatar image for pctech714

As someone who approached "The Fellowship of the Ring" movie as a fan of reading Tolkien's works for over 15 years at that point, I walked into the theater with such high expectations... then walked away with absolute disgust.

It only took a second and third viewing for me to realize that it's just impossible to fit all of Tolkien's story and lore into a 2-3 hour movie. Once I accepted that fact it was easier to handle those other viewings and the remaining two movies in the trilogy.

But "The Hobbit" was a mistake from the beginning. "The Lord of the Rings" movies were three movies because there were three books packed full of dense background, mythology and lore. The attempt to graft all of that (with heavy sprinkling from "The Silmarillion") and needless, watered-down exposition doesn't fix that.

"The Hobbit" was a self-contained story written for children that barely topped 300 pages. The only reason it was expanded was so that New Line could make some money. You would think that Peter Jackson at this point would have the clout to say, "No! Enough! You're making a movie series of Will Whitfoot proportions!" (look him up, if you like)

These three movies make me feel much the same way as I do when I watch any of the Star Wars prequel movies: about 30 minutes of good ideas and quality story but the rest is just plain, overextended crap.

Avatar image for ayumispender

Never cared about the series personally, but I say if you didn't have much time and needed to think shit through without being a complete mess, then they did the right thing.

Avatar image for lordossiss


Avatar image for gotrekfabian

@lordossiss: You have problems.

Avatar image for deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

@lordossiss: Oh would you stuff it? He took over from Del Toro and had to start filming within weeks.

Avatar image for lordossiss

@pongley: NOPE
It was terrible fan fiction. He deserves any kind of hate he gets.
He deserves it.

Avatar image for Evenios

yeah the hobbit wasnt as good as the lord of the rings should have just been one movie instead of streched into 3.

Avatar image for RossRichard

Phil Jackson is making video games now??? Oh wait, GAMEspot is doing movie news for some reason.

Avatar image for jjnetzach

Oh crap. I thought "another Makuch article" but it seems there are more offenders.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

Way to put effort into it. I noticed you still charged full price for the movie tickets.

Avatar image for sadface1234

We gonna chance the name of this site to Moviespot or somthing?

Avatar image for aftershave219

Who gives a flying ****

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide

well, yeah. what a crap trilogy.

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