Although the novels he chooses to adapt keep getting shorter and shorter, Peter Jackson’s movies continue to stay roughly the same length. For awhile, it looked like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey would be the movie that would finally force him to break out of this pattern. After all, Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkein’s novel (just 310 pages long in most editions) will come out in three parts, which strongly suggests that the first instalment will be based off the first 100 pages only, and how could anyone turn 100 pages into a 3-hour-long epic? The math just doesn’t add up.
Well, we don’t know how he did it yet, but Jackson has somehow found a way to make An Unexpected Journey almost as long as any of the Lord of the Rings movies. In an interview with Empire, Jackson has announced that the movie will be at least 160 minutes long (the end credits haven’t been finalized yet). Perhaps parts two and three will be just half an hour?
In a way, this is actually very encouraging news. When it was first announced that The Hobbit would be a trilogy instead of a simple two-parter, many assumed that the decision was financially motivated. But if Jackson simply wanted to make more money by spreading The Hobbit out over three parts, wouldn’t he also make some attempt at bringing the movies in at a reasonable running time? Movies that are two hours long tend to make more money than movies that are three hours long because the shorter running time allows theatres to fit more screenings into a day. So hey, maybe Jackson still has some artistic integrity after all.
For those who are interested, here are the page-to-minute ratios of Jackson’s last five literary adaptations.
The Fellowship of the Ring—novel: 531 pages, movie: 178 minutes (ratio: 2.9:1)
The Two Towers—novel: 416 pages, movie: 179 minutes (ratio: 2.3:1)
The Return of the King—novel: 625 pages, movie: 201 minutes (ratio: 3.1:1)
The Lovely Bones—novel: 328 pages, movie: 135 minutes (ratio: 2.43:1)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—novel: approx. 100 of 310 pages, movie: 160 minutes (ratio: 0.6:1)