A little bird came knocking today, and whispered some intriguing — and slightly baffling — news into our ears. Ringer Spy The Knocking Thrush, who is a reliable source, dropped us a line to let us know that New Line have registered a new title: The Hobbit: Into the Fire. But for what?
A quick reminder of the history of The Hobbit movie titles may be in order!
- Back when we thought we were only getting two movies, the titles were to be An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again.
- In July of 2012 the decision was made to make three films, with An Unexpected Journey still as the first title, but unknown titles for the next two films.
- Then we heard — from our same reliable source — that New Line had registered two new names — The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. These titles seemed pretty clearly suited to parts two and three of a trilogy — so one might have thought There and Back Again was gone.
- By August 2012, however, it seemed that the titles were set as The Desolation of Smaug for part two, with There and Back Again retained for the third and final part. This title for part three seemed to be confirmed in other, later press releases, such as the one confirming the move of the release date from Summer to December 2014, as reported here. The Battle of Five Armies title had come to nothing — and There and Back Again has been used by press, cast, and all when discussing the film which will come out at the end of this year.
Now, we hear that New Line has registered this further title, The Hobbit: Into the Fire. What does this mean? Previously, The Knocking Thursh told us that — quoting from this post — ‘because they must register their eventual title, studios often register multiple titles.’
One could believe that, back in 2012, The Battle of Five Armies was simply a ‘just in case’ extra title; but why would there be a need for such a ‘maybe’ title at this stage?
Staffer Demosthenes has some ideas…
Could There And Back Again simply have been a holding title for the past 18 months?
Brand is incredibly important to studios (just as it is to most multinationals). It seems to defy logic that New Line (and I guess Warner Bros and MGM) would abandon a name that’s built up a great deal of recognition among keen fans and casual moviegoers to the point where there’s an acronym for it — TABA.
It might be that they believe the title is confusing. After all, the Company is already There (ie: Erebor). But it’s just as logical to interpret the word there as referring to being there as it is to think that it must mean the act of travelling to there. I don’t think it’s really that confusing as a title.
Or maybe it’s a nod to the chapter of The Hobbit Out of the Frying Pan, Into The Fire. We’ve seen dialogue get reapportioned in entirely different contexts (sometimes by different speakers to the novels) in this way before. But I can’t see why they’d abandon There And Back Again — part of the novel’s title — merely to do that.
Once you really think about it, Into The Fire actually seems a better fit for the events that we’ve just witnessed in The Desolation of Smaug, not what we’ll see in the final film. Bilbo and Thorin have already experienced their trial by fire.
Alternatively, maybe New Line is planning some movie tie-in we don’t yet know about, and need to reserve intellectual property rights. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what, if anything, comes of this.