Both CRIMES OF THE FUTURE and THIRTEEN LIVES featured the Aragorn actor in top fashion, yet there was no fan discussion nor viewership numbers worth reporting from any studio. Taking into consideration this was the year of the inescapable RINGS OF POWER, the most expensive TV season ever telling the story of Aragorn’s heritage, we have to ask: what happened?
Crimes of the Movie Going
Viggo Mortensen re-teaming with Howard Shore should be enough to grab any LOTR fans attention, then add in that it’s David Cronenberg returning to his shock-scifi roots. There should be an ongoing buzz about this in 2022 right? But CRIMES OF THE FUTURE came and went with barely a whisper. According to Rotten Tomatoes it is a respectable 80% Fresh, and JustWatch says it is currently streaming on Hulu.
Not only does it have a new Howard Shore score (who has worked with Cronenberg on most of his films), CRIMES OF THE FUTURE is the fourth collaboration between the director and Mortensen – who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for their hit EASTERN PROMISES. Yet there’s been close to zero conversation on our message boards or twitter feed, as if nobody gave this film a try.
To be clear, Cronenberg films can an acquired taste and you the viewer should be prepared for full dark, body-shock genre storytelling. This movie was never going to be a blockbuster, but with a very fervent fanbase for both LOTR and Cronenberg and Shore, it’s surprising this film didn’t find its footing in cinemas or streaming.
THIRTEEN LIVES, NO THEATERS
The other Viggo Mortensen film that should have been a huge 2022 hit is THIRTEEN LIVES, directed by Ron Howard and co-starring Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton. Critics and audiences agree that this is a great movie! An all-star cast, story ripped from the headlines, with one of the top directors of all time. It also was the best test-scores in MGM studios history.
THIRTEEN LIVES tells the story of the cave-diving rescue of a team of kids stuck underground in a Thailand monsoon. There’s also a meta-cultural touchpoint since this is the rescue event where Elon Musk called rescuers horrible names and promised a technological solution that never materialized, and Elon is one of the most talked about persons on the internet in 2022 with his takeover of Twitter. So between cultural relevance, meme opportunities, a real human story of heroics, epic test scores, this had all the hallmarks of a huge box office hit. Plus, THIRTEEN LIVES is produced by Amazon Studios, home to RINGS OF POWER.
We can guess why this film was direct-to-streaming, as Amazon wants people to sign up for Prime Video. But this film is a perfect theatrical experience where every thrilling hold-your-breath moment would be shared with strangers in a dark cinema. Prime Video has stated it still believes in theatrical distribution with its recent acquisition of MGM studios, so why didn’t this get a summer release? Top Gun Maverick is Tom Cruise’s biggest film of his career, while WB released several blockbusters on both HBO Max and theaters simultaneously.
Why wasn’t THIRTEEN LIVES put in theaters?
Why didn’t Prime offer this movie after each episode of RINGS OF POWER?
Why did Amazon make a movie with Isildur’s heir, in a year with their show about Isildur, and not promote it?
Does this movie show up in your Prime dashboard after watching the entirety of Rings of Powers?
Viggo Mortensen is turning in some of the best performances in 2022. As the movie industry enters awards season, maybe these films will get renewed interest and some nominations. Fans of Viggo Mortensen should definitely give THIRTEEN LIVES a go on Amazon Prime, and if you can stomach a jaunt with CRIMES OF THE FUTURE on Hulu.
With many new Lord of the Rings projects on the horizon, maybe there’s room for Viggo Mortensen to direct, write, score or star in more Middle-earth. Amazon or Embracer, give him a call.
It was MGM’s precarious financial situation in the mid-2000s that delayed The Hobbit film series and contributed to the departure of Guillermo Del Toro from the production. Peter Jackson subsequently assumed the directorial role.
Amazon says it’s acquisition of “the storied, nearly century-old studio … will complement Prime Video and Amazon Studios’ work in delivering a diverse offering of entertainment choices to customers.”
Variety reports that the buy followed merger approval by the European antitrust regulator. That body’s review decided that overlaps between Amazon and MGM were “limited”.
Readers may recall that the Saul Zaentz Co. also recently announced the sale of its entire holding of Middle-earth IP, and that there is an ongoing legal stoush over whether Warner Bros./New Line Cinema still retains its LOTR/Hobbit film adaptations license. Given the above, it’s not impossible (though the chance is, perhaps, remote) that Amazon could eventually unite all the currently available Middle-earth film and television IP under its own banner.
Hobbits are now owned by Amazon, joining all-encompassing TV rights to The Lord of the Rings book and appendices rights.
The Hobbit films were produced by Warner Bros from rights owned by MGM. img: YouTube
It’s official: Amazon has acquired MGM Studios, including the longtime film and TV rights to The Hobbit and characters related. Within hours, CEO Jeff Bezos announced he is stepping down in July and moving to Hollywood to play with his major studio, of which the crown jewel is The Lord of the Rings.
What this means is that @LOTRonPrime can put Hobbits in their Second Age show, since rights to that class of characters were held by MGM. ‘But timelines,’ you say! Time is just a construct. Amazon needs an Everyman entry point for casual viewers: Hobbits are that. There have been rumors that Harfoots are in the show, a book-sourced compromise from the troublesome Hobbit rights. Amazon can now change all the dialogue in reshoots to call them Hobbits; casual fans will want that familiarity.
Remember the crushing drama of rights issues with MGM on The Hobbit, which caused Guillermo del Toro perhaps the greatest professional loss of his career? Amazon has just resolved all that for the future.
Amazon has full TV rights to The Lord of the Rings full stop – anything mentioned in the books and appendices. Now they have all the rights MGM previously held, from its 45 year old Saul Zaentz deal. Amazon chose not to remake The Lord of the Rings, instead exploring many different options, before settling on Numenor and the Second Age.
Owning MGM means, of course, that Amazon COULD remake The Hobbit into a limited series or a cartoon; many things are possible. All kinds of round doors are now open…
After weeks of rumors (and some nail biting), it’s official! The DVD and Blu-ray editions of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, will be available on Tuesday, November 17. Those who prefer a digital copy can own it four weeks earlier, on Tuesday, October 17. The official press release follows:
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
A PRODUCTION OF NEW LINE CINEMA AND
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES, THE FINAL FILM IN THE EPIC THE HOBBIT TRILOGY, ARRIVES ON BLU-RAY™, DVD AND DIGITAL HD FROM WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
EXTENDED EDITION FEATURES A 20-MINUTE LONGER CUT AND
MORE THAN NINE HOURS OF NEW SPECIAL FEATURES
The Hobbit Trilogy Extended EditionAlso Available on
Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD
Burbank, CA, August 25, 2015 – The adventures of Bilbo Baggins come to an epic conclusion when “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” from Academy Award®-winning* filmmaker Peter Jackson, is released as an Extended Edition on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. A production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), the extended cut of the final film in The Hobbit Trilogy includes 20 minutes of extra footage and more than 9 hours of bonus features that will complete every Hobbit fan’s collection. The film, the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on November 17 and will be available early on Digital HD on October 20.
MGM is reporting growth, thanks in part to ‘The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey.‘ The privately held studio says that revenues were up across all of its core businesses, but singled out contributions from the international release of home videos for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the James Bond film Skyfall.
The year over year results are slightly skewed by the $55.7M it recorded from a television asset sale in 2012. With that included, net income came in at $35.9M, -16% vs the period last year, on revenues of $339M, +164%. Without the asset sale, net income would have been up $30M in Q2
We recently got our hands on what we think is some authentic Bilbo casting and production information which seemed to contradict something we knew with absolute certainty: The Hobbit production wanted Martin Freeman for Bilbo and has since as long ago as last year. Seemingly at odds with that fact was apparently concrete casting details about Bilbo and actors still giving audition tapes. Was the role sewn up or not?
A spy has provided an exclusive clue or two about what the role of Bilbo will be like and even a plot detail and a production outline but we were reluctant to report it because of apparent contradictions, but with all the recent Freeman news, it now fits in context. And yes, you have to read on. This is news you must work for, at least a little bit. Continue reading “Exclusive: Bilbo the Brave? Hobbit casting details”