Finally. The Hobbit films are slated for release.
The first, "The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey," will be released in December 2012. And the second, "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," will be released the next December.
So it will be a wait.
You may watch the goings on from Director Peter Jackson's point of view at a video blog posted on his fb site.
My feelings are different for the Hobbit than for the Lord of the Rings: and here I am speaking of the books rather than the films. The films, I think, will probably invite the same reaction: mostly positive, with some points of disappointment (i.e., the absence of Tom Bombadil, the Scouring of the Shire; the eroticizing of Arwen).
The texts are both great but completely different -- except for some common threads of narrative. The Hobbit is a child's story for adults. It has charm and homeliness (the older meaning, not the ugly new one). Goodness, it has cuff links that magically clasp themselves.
It also has trenchant comments by the grandfatherly narrator (who has disappeared, for the most part, in the later trilogy). In the unpleasant visit with the goblins in their subterranean corporate headquarters, the narrator suggests that it was the goblins who invented mechanical warfare and, perhaps, industrialism altogether.
That reason alone could warrant my affection for the Hobbit: and there are many, many others. I have already announced to my daughters my patriarchal right to read, aloud, the whole Tolkienian canon (with theatrical voices), to my future grandchildren.
The Lord of the Rings is a more Wagnerian affair, and I mean this substantively. I am not the first to detect a little of the Ring Cycle in the story. Still, there is homeliness and cheer, courtesy and friendship. But childlike delight has been replaced by terrible beauty. Happiness still reigns in the Shire, but it is surrounded and protected by the great powers of tragic joy.
I wonder what Jackson will do with the Hobbit?
We already know he expects these two movies to be a "prequel" (an ignominious word) to the film trilogy. Much will be said about the White Council (which got only a few lines in the book). More will be said about the Necromancer getting kicked out of Dol Gildur. I have always wanted to read more about this, but Tolkien seemed to think that it was not germane to the story.
But it will be germane to the films, and probably critically so.
And therein lies the problem. The films, including the Hobbit dyad, pursue a narrative that differs from the books.
Hmmm. I'll go see them anyways.