Even if Tolkien fans end up adoring Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of The Hobbit, moviegoers may wonder what the Guillermo del Toro take on the project would have been like. In 2008, del Toro signed on to direct the film but exited 18 months later as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey still had failed to receive an official greenlight.
Longtime Jackson producer and co-writer Philippa Boyens shared her thoughts on what del Toro’s Hobbit would have looked like during The Hollywood Reporter’s producer roundtable. She said it would have had a different script, been slightly more like a “fairy tale” and would have had different visual elements.
“Part of me still wonders what that would have looked like,” she said.
Boyens speculated that Jackson stepped up and chose to direct the film in order to help it get greenlighted. She noted that after del Toro stepped down and Jackson declared his intention to direct, it still took several months for the film to get its elusive greenlight -- illustrating that even with a property like The Hobbit and a director like Jackson, nothing is a foregone conclusion when getting a film made.
On that topic, Stacey Sher (Django Unchained) added: “Nothing is a sure thing. You find movies that look perfect on paper, and then they just don't work at all."
Bruce Cohen (Silver Linings Playbook) added that projections about which stars or director must be attached for a film to get made can be helpful -- but also stifling.
“For each project, you have to decide: How much are we listening to projections, and how much are we ignoring them?” Cohen asked. “On the one hand, they can be very helpful because if you know -- we really need an element, from a director or a star or something, or we don't have a shot to get it made -- then, of course, that's good information. But a lot of us, if we listened to those projections or took no for an answer, then we wouldn't get our movies made."
The producer roundtable also featured Grant Heslov (Argo), JoAnne Sellar (The Master) and Eric Fellner (Les Miserables). The conversation was moderated by THR news director Matthew Belloni and executive features editor Stephen Galloway.