peter jackson and philippa boyensAll good things must come to an end. And this is certainly the case with Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy. Originally supposed to only be two films, the adaptation of the "Lord of the Rings" prequel was then stretched into three, each one more terrifically entertaining than the last. This latest film, "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies," sees the titular armies clashing in spectacular fashion, a dragon with the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch raining hellfire down on a small lake town, and Ian McKellan hilariously packing a pipe.

We got to sit down with Peter Jackson, who has directed not only ever "Hobbit" film but every "Lord of the Rings" film (and is presumably the second biggest Tolkien nerd in the world after Stephen Colbert) and his co-writer, Philippa Boyens, for a discussion about what original director Guillermo del Toro contributed to the series, the move away from practical orcs to computer-generated orcs, and what the possibilities of a "Lord of the Rings" theme park actually are.

Moviefone: Guillermo del Toro was obviously going to do this initially. How much of that original material that you guys cooked up wound up in the original films and are we ever going to get a coffee table book of his designs?

Peter Jackson: Well, Philippa can give some sense of this... But it's hard to remember. Back when Guillermo was involved there were two drafts, because it was going to be two movies. And since then they have gone through multiple revisions by Philippa, Fran [Walsh], and myself. So it's hard, because sometimes you're revising dialogue but the fundamental idea Guillermo cooked up with us, and sometimes it wasn't. So it's all very hard to break it down. But certainly multiple drafts have happened since but we plotted out the major movements. His fingerprints are in there for sure.

Philippa Boyens: Recognizing that first draft and that initial work really is why he's got that screen credit, which we all totally agreed with.

PJ: It's more than just that first draft, it's just that things branched off of the plotting and the machinations of the plot.

PB: A lot of stuff changed because, as Fran and I saw it, we were writing for a different director.

PJ: I certainly had to change it. When I direct a movie, never once in my career have I ever picked up anybody else's script. Just somewhere in my DNA, my brain just doesn't work that way. If you gave me a script that you'd written, you could pay me all the money in the world and I couldn't direct. I'd be thinking through your head, wondering what you were thinking when you wrote these words, I'd be thinking through you rather than have direct contact with the script. For me to direct a movie I have to be there, creating these scenes and actually write them. So while a lot of things Guillermo did probably did survive in terms of tones and moods and plot things and character things, it was certainly revised for me once I was director because I don't operate any other way. Otherwise, I would have been trying to make a Guillermo film. I would be thinking, What would Guillermo do? Which is the last thing in the world that I should do. Because he should make his films and I should make my films.

PB: He had some important... Like he was there when we created Tariel. That was a big deal.

PJ: It's possible that not a single line of dialogue of his survived but there are characters and things. That's why it's hard to define.

And what about a book?

PJ: As Guillermo was picking up to go, we talked about it. He said, "Wouldn't this be great?" And I said, "Yeah, when the time is right." Which, I think, from Warner Bros' point of view, is when the three movies are out on DVD, so my three films will be out and done. We all have a great idea and intention for all of Guillermo's design work, all eighteen months worth, will be out in some form, whether it's a book or a DVD supplemental feature. But he's keen to do that and I'm very keen to do that too. It'll happen at some point.

Now that the entire franchise is done, are there any characters from "The Hobbit" that you're sad you can't move into "Lord of the Rings"?

PB: You're the person to ask that!

PJ: You mean retrospectively?

PB: Tauriel.

PJ: Tauriel.

PB: I actually think the young girls are going to start watching this 1, 2, 3 and they're going to start wondering where she is.

PJ: We're really three or four years away from eight and nine year-olds discovering these movies and watching them in this order and will be wondering why she doesn't show up in "Lord of the Rings." Maybe we'll get Evangeline down to New Zealand, shoot a bunch of stuff, chop it up and put it into a box set.

While embarking on these movies, what seemed like it was going to be the biggest hurdle and what actually ended up being the most difficult aspect?

PJ: For me, the reason why I didn't want to direct them in the first place was, How can I make these movies and not feel like I'm repeating myself? I'm doing a battle scene, okay I've got to do a bigger one. If I'm doing a spooky forest there, I've got to do it here. I was just afraid I would be in a rut, trying to compete against myself. I've got to compete against Peter's spooky forest in 1999. That's what I was nervous about. That was my biggest fear. But it turns out that wasn't the case at all. When I actually got to shoot this movie, you walk on set and you've got different script pages, a different story, often different characters, even if they're the same characters. And you just do the best you can.

PB: I remember discussing this with Fran... Just as "Lord of the Rings" had multiple endings, "The Hobbit" had multiple beginnings. Partly it was about introducing the back story of these thirteen characters.

PJ: We got criticized for the multiple beginnings just as we got criticized for the multiple endings on "Lord of the Rings!"

PB: But it is about set up.

PJ: It's a weird thing, even when you look at the reviews for this movie, people are still bitter about the breakfast scene from the first movie. They say, "It took so long." Fair enough. But I always thought of these movies as a 7 hour film. So you look at it as, "Why are we spending the first quarter of this movie at a dinner scene?" Where I'm thinking that it's not the first quarter it's actually 1/16th of a thing. We shoot them at the same time and obviously I can't think of them as a single film, but I have to keep that structure in mind. That's not really excuse for a long dinner scene, but still.

PB: In the end you're responding to critics, which I don't think is a way to make movies. You can't write for critics, you have to write for fans. And as a screenwriter, you have to introduce these characters.

PJ: It's an interesting thing, since people got themselves wound up about the multiple endings of "Return of the King" and I wonder if they'd feel like that if they sat through a marathon of the three "Lord of the Rings" movies, whether you'd feel like you'd earned them at that point. Because people felt like we hadn't earned it. I've never watched all three of them together.

PB: Can I tell you how I don't give a sh*t about those things? We've received letters from people who say what that ending means. People don't realize it but Frodo's journey is basically a journey towards death, which means an incredible amount. I just took a friend who was a fan to the screening of these films who lost their 9-year-old boy. We get a lot of letters like that -- people who want to see the film before they die. So those multiple endings and Frodo says, "I set out to save the Shire but it's not for me, it's for you."

PJ: It's a soldier coming back from war. He's changed... Wait a minute is this the junket for "Return of the King"? We've gone back in time!

PB: But I do want to say that for that 9-year-old boy, the scene between Frodo and Gandalf where Gandalf says, "This is not the end" and to see Frodo get on that boat and smile, that was everything to that 9-year-old boy and it stopped him from being afraid. People don't understand that.

PJ: The amount of letters we get from people who say, "This film changed my life." And it's not because we've made brilliant films but...

PB: It's Professor Tolkien!

PJ: ... They were thinking about suicide and they saw this movie and it turned them around. I don't know how many other filmmakers get these letters, maybe everyone does. But some of the letters were really moving. I don't think they're crap. I think they're very genuine. You don't realize how important these movies are for people.

You've talked about the first priority being entertainment value. I don't know if that really happened with "Lovely Bones." Is that deterring you from going back to movies of that scale?

PJ: I'd like to see it again. I haven't seen it since it came out. I never watch my movies.

PB: That's funny, because the letters we get. It's amazing.

PJ: Anyone with a child who's died... You can't make a movie for that audience. You can't make a movie to connect with someone personally. We can only make entertainment. But these Tolkien books, the way people gravitate towards them.

PB: I was talking to a young director and he thinks some of your best shooting and directing is in "The Lovely Bones."

PJ: One day I'll watch it again. I'm almost ready to watch "Heavenly Creatures" again.

But are you anxious at all to get back to something smaller?

PJ: I'm absolutely happy to make smaller films. It's what I want to do. Fran and I, and obviously with Philippa, we made "Heavenly Creatures" as a chronicle of New Zealand. We're New Zealanders. "Heavenly Creatures" was the last time we made a movie about our own culture. So we want to go back and make some New Zealand stories. I don't really like the Hollywood blockbuster bandwagon that exists right now. The industry and the advent of all the technology, has kind of lost its way. It's become very franchise driven and superhero driven. I've never read a comic book in my life so I'm immediately at a disadvantage and I have no interest in that. So now it's time for us to step back. We're heading towards something of that scale.

You should do something scary again.

PJ: Scary?

PB: I'm with you! I want to see that too!

PJ: It's interesting because what's scary is again scary. It's been a long time since I've seen a really scary movie. I remember seeing "Halloween" when I was 16 and it freaked the hell out of me. That's what you want to do -- really creep them out. "The Exorcist" is probably the most disturbing film I've ever seen.

PB: I remember you making me watch "The Exorcist III" because of the sound effects.

PJ: There's some really creepy bits in that. The guy with the scissors is fantastic.

It's an underrated movie.

PJ: Underrated for sure.

PB: The sound effects are fantastic.

PJ: So, yes, I'm not going to head off and do a Marvel film. So if I don't do a Marvel film, I don't have any other choice -- I've got to go make a small New Zealand movie!

There has been talk about Universal doing a "Harry Potter"-like land for "Lord of the Rings"/"The Hobbit." Can you talk about where that is?

PJ: I'm not a lawyer for Warner Bros but as far as I know, the Tolkien estate would dispute that. If Universal said they wanted to do a theme park, I think they'd be fighting a big Tolkien estate lawsuit for a while. Now who would win, I don't know, but the Tolkien estate would claim that they have the rights to that.

PB: Just come to New Zealand!

Here they have the "Harry Potter" soundstage. Would you be interested in doing something more along those lines?

PJ: Certainly. We have all the costumes and props in New Zealand. I couldn't bear to have that stuff auctioned off. So they're sitting in a warehouse right now. Theme park? I wouldn't want to have a lawsuit on my hands.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Movie Poster
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Based on 45 critics

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