Jackson Tells Third Hobbit Movie Title

Peter Jackson revealed on Facebook today that the title of the third film of The Hobbit has been changed to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, superseding a couple of other titles had been registered and discussed in the media.

Green Dragon’s reaction at The One Ring gave me a laugh. He wrote:

Personally, I’m disappointed that they didn’t go for The Beorn Ultimatum…

Malnutrition in Middle-Earth?

An offbeat study in the Canberra Times concludes that the evil characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit lost their battle against men, elves, and dwarves because they suffered from vitamin deficiency —

Shunning sunlight, surviving on a sketchy or unbalanced diet based on rotten meat or (in Gollum’s case) the occasional blind fish, they lacked vitamin D, a key component for healthy bones and muscle strength.

The idea is proposed by Nicholas Hopkinson, a doctor at Imperial College London, and his son Joseph, in the Christmas edition of the Medical Journal of Australia. They scoured The Hobbit for references to characters’ living conditions, habits and diet.

Next thing you know, these quacks will be telling trolls to boost their vitamin D levels by getting more sunlight.

[Thanks to Janice Gelb for the story.]

Today’s The Day

If you’re not already in line for it you soon will be – the second Hobbit movie opens in American theaters today. That is, unless you’re among the proud and lonely who loathe and scorn Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkien books and will spend the day with your eyes squeezed shut, a finger stuck in each ear and loudly humming “La-La-La!”

Either way, it’s really not true that you need any help making that ticket-purchasing decision. And yet I enthusiastically recommend you read Mark Lisanti’s silly and quite amusing Grantland column “Should You See It? A Curious Consumer’s Decision-Making Guide to The Desolation of Smaug, with interrogatories like —

Are you a Tolkien purist?

If you’re the type of person who’s upset that Jackson put Legolas into The Hobbit films for fan service — or if you’re the type of person who’s even aware that Legolas isn’t supposed to be in these films — you are probably going to poop your tunic over how they invented the character of Tauriel for storytelling purposes.

Things become significantly more complicated for Tolkien purists who also happen to occupy the quirky subset of Lost fans who did not find the character of Kate totally off-putting, because Tauriel is, of course, played by Magic Island pariah Evangeline Lilly. Good luck to the unfortunate souls trapped in the intersection of that Venn diagram, wherever you are. Life must be interesting for you.

SKIP IT. Though you HAVE TO ADMIT that Evangeline Lilly was born to PLAY AN ELF who ENRAGES NERDS.

On a serious note — if you come home from the movie in the mood to review it for File 770 please send me what you’ve got!

Forecast: Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug  teaser trailer went up on YouTube today. Starring all the folks you saw in the first movie, plus Benedict Cumberbatch as The Wrath of Smaug.

Oh, and Evangeline Lilly as a feisty red-headed elf warrior named Tauriel. You didn’t see her in the first movie. Or Tolkien’s book, come to think of it.

Frankel’s New Hobbit Parody

Parodies are the cornerstone of Valerie Estelle Frankel’s career. Now the author who’s sent up Harry Potter, Buffy, and The Hunger Games has twisted The Hobbit into a Gordian knot of mirth, judging by her description on Amazon:

An Unexpected Parody: The Unauthorized Spoof of The Hobbit revisits the film with mayhem, mirth, and magic missiles—or at least, crumpled newspaper missiles. Torn Teepeeshield, the Hot Prince of the Dwarves, puts aside his developing stardom in dwarf cabaret to quest to the LameOldMountain and destroy the dragon Erpolushun, or in the common tongue, Smog. Gonedaft the Grey, formerly known as Gonedaft the Grizzled and Gonedaft of the Rainbow Tie-die that He So Can’t Pull Off, recruits Bumble Baglunch, country gentleman and professional coward, since as an avid comic book fan and all-around geek, Bumble’s too smart to fall prey to obvious fantasy clichés. Together with Bobbin, Noggin, Rover, Clover, Sloppy, Ploppy, Frappe, Hottie, Spottie, Quaff, Sloth, and Ezekiel the dwarves, they journey across Renfair Earth to revive their franchise. Destiny may be a word writers use to pave over plotholes, but Bumble is determined to triumph nonetheless and play as good a game of goblin golf as his ancestors.

It will be quite some book if it sustains this level of humorous invention all the way through

[Thanks to Willard Stone for the story.]

Tolkien Litigation No Place for the Humble

When the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins’ sued Warner Bros., New Line and Rings/Hobbit rightsholder Saul Zaentz in November, they told the court that The Lord of the Rings is “reported to be the second most-read book in the United States after the Bible.” (Maybe you thought that honor belonged to Redshirts?)

But in Saul Zaentz’ answer to the lawsuit he is quick to correct the mistaken impression that LOTR’s or The Hobbit’s value has anything to do with the books:

Zaentz admits that The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (and associated and proprietary characters, elements and marks) are among the most famous and valuable marks in the world, and that an excellent reputation and highly valuable goodwill has been developed in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (and associated characters, elements and marks) and in the products, goods and services featuring them. Zaentz denies that this is a result of Plaintiffs’ efforts; rather, the fame and goodwill developed in these marks, products, goods, and services is largely the result of the dedicated efforts of Zaentz and its licensees (including Warner Bros.) over the past four decades.

The answer also calls upon the court the affirm that under earlier agreements with the Tolkien Estate Zaentz holds “broad merchandising rights in such services such as hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, ringtones, and online games, casino gambling and online/downloadable video games.”

This includes Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Online Slot Game, the most notorious example of the digital exploitation of Tolkien’s brand. (See What Has It Got In Its Jackpotses?) The Estate’s view is that the “defendants have, with increasing boldness, engaged in a continuing and escalating pattern of usurping rights to which they are not entitled.” However, Zaentz’ answer claims they have been doing this without objection for a long time, and that in 1996 the parties confirmed rights to online video games.