Originally, Peter Jackson intended his adaptation of The Hobbit to be a two-film effort — a duology.
We’ll never know for certain how it would have turned out, but in this feature TORn writer Captain Salt brings together the known facts to give us some idea of just how it might have shaped up.
The Hobbit: a duology?
by Captain Salt
The Hobbit being adapted as a trilogy has certainly caused a lot of controversy… so much so that it may be hard to recall that the initial plan to produce a duology also drew its fair share of discourse and speculation.
From the scraps we’re able to glean (the process of adapting a two-film version has not been over-detailed to us as of yet), Peter’s Jackson’s initial The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again (no The Desolation of Smaug here) would have differed in several ways from the final product.
Once the Extended Edition of The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again come out later this year it’ll be easier to reconstruct Peter’s original two movie conception. In the meantime, this is one possible “what could have been” for a two-movie The Hobbit.
The idea of opening The Hobbit movies with Sir Ian Holm and Elijah Wood seems to have been in place from early on. However, the prologue was at first to feature a backstory for how Frodo came to be adopted by his “Uncle” Bilbo. Following the party scene featuring young Bilbo and Gandalf, it seems the writers intended to show Frodo moving to live at Bag End after the untimely drowning of Drogo and Primula.
Ryan Gage, ultimately cast as Alfrid Lickspittle, was to play Drogo Baggins while Australian actress Caroline Grace-Cassidy was one of the candidates in the frame for the role of Primula Brandybuck.
According to Philippa Boyens, at one point the flashback sequence detailing the history of Erebor and Dale was set to unfold during the Unexpected Party. This would have meant a shorter, more whimsical prologue featuring only the Hobbits. Boyens also mentioned they considered including the flashback following Thrain within the party scene. This would have shed more light on the pivotal Map and Key -– and perhaps even have started the Necromancer storyline in a very different way.
Another consequence of all these flashbacks occuring in Bilbo’s house would have meant an even more extended first act — and perhaps significant trims to character scenes.