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John Marston

why did the Hobbit movies not do better at the domestic (mainly) box office?

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Obviously the first response is to say "Because they weren't as good as LOTR" and of course I fully accept the fact the Hobbit movies weren't as good as LOTR (Though I still enjoy them a lot). But I feel that is not enough. It seems nostalgia alone can elevate a movie following a hugely well received previous series to huge heights, even money wise as much as how much the originals made. The Star Wars prequels are a great example. Indiana Jones 4 is another great example. Hell lots of people are predicting Jurassic World to possibly make 300m even though it is following two average sequels simply based on nostalgia alone and it is looking like it will. 

 

as we saw,  AUJ started making far less than LOTR right from its opening day. 

 

 

Was 9 years not enough for the LOTR series to become "nostalgic"? Did WB not do a good job of marketing to the younger demographic? Do young people today not care about the Middle Earth franchise at all? It seems that way. 

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Because two of the three movies were borderline Plan Nine From Outer Space bad. And the third one was just passable.

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I think there are a few reasons, putting aside any issue of "quality" (since that's largely subjective).

 

First, whether rightly or wrongly, the Hobbit movies came under fairly heavy criticism -- even before release -- by expanding from two films to three (or even whether they should've been only one to start). So from the get-go, people were extra-aware of anything that might be related to pacing issues, more-so than they might've been otherwise.

 

Secondly, I think PJ's efforts to combine the "lighter" elements of the primary Hobbit narrative with the "darker" LOTR aesthetic were mixed, at best. Even granting the partial success of, say, incorporating the reveal of Sauron into the movies, for the most part the additions felt "LOTR-lite", and not in a great way. PJ was in love with the Middle-Earth universe, and that also led him astray into too many subplots, most of which didn't ultimately justify their screen-time. Even people who really enjoyed the movies, I think, would question the need to spend so much time on the Master of Laketown (for example).

 

The general audience wouldn't care (or even notice) some of this, of course, but one of the side effects of all this adding was that Bilbo -- one of the trilogy's great strengths, especially with Martin Freeman's performance -- was increasingly sidelined with little to do for huge chunks of all the movies; and, one or two dwarves aside, not enough was done to really make any of them that interesting. So we ended up with a lot of scenes with epic sweep and scale, but with side characters (the main Orcs, in particular) feeling more like a cut-scene from something like SKYRIM or any other fantasy game series.

 

All of this added up to some interest, and certainly some fans, but not to the Must See "It" factor that drove the first trilogy to such heights. The Hobbit movies didn't feel like the events of the year, they just felt like another blockbuster release.

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I wonder if general audience behaved like me. I saw the first movie, it was really boring, nothing happened, everything took too long and I left the theater thinking "and there are still 6 hours for me to watch? No, thanks". I didn't come back for the sequels.

Edited by JohnnY
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I wonder if general audience behaved like me. I saw the first movie, it was really boring, nothing happened, everything took too long and I left the theater thinking "and there are still 6 hours for me to watch? No, thanks". I didn't come back for the sequels.

Even the first movie , right from opening day, didn't attract the upfront audience you'd expect following a hugely popular trilogy

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Even the first movie , right from opening day, didn't attract the upfront audience you'd expect following a hugely popular trilogy

 

I think this is actually the case where reviews and early WOM hurt the first movie (and thus, the series). $13m+ in sneak previews is pretty solid for December. If reviews had been stellar -- on LOTR level -- along with great WOM, you would've seen a larger OW and better legs.

 

IMO, anyway.

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I think there are a few reasons, putting aside any issue of "quality" (since that's largely subjective).

 

First, whether rightly or wrongly, the Hobbit movies came under fairly heavy criticism -- even before release -- by expanding from two films to three (or even whether they should've been only one to start). So from the get-go, people were extra-aware of anything that might be related to pacing issues, more-so than they might've been otherwise.

 

Secondly, I think PJ's efforts to combine the "lighter" elements of the primary Hobbit narrative with the "darker" LOTR aesthetic were mixed, at best. Even granting the partial success of, say, incorporating the reveal of Sauron into the movies, for the most part the additions felt "LOTR-lite", and not in a great way. PJ was in love with the Middle-Earth universe, and that also led him astray into too many subplots, most of which didn't ultimately justify their screen-time. Even people who really enjoyed the movies, I think, would question the need to spend so much time on the Master of Laketown (for example).

 

The general audience wouldn't care (or even notice) some of this, of course, but one of the side effects of all this adding was that Bilbo -- one of the trilogy's great strengths, especially with Martin Freeman's performance -- was increasingly sidelined with little to do for huge chunks of all the movies; and, one or two dwarves aside, not enough was done to really make any of them that interesting. So we ended up with a lot of scenes with epic sweep and scale, but with side characters (the main Orcs, in particular) feeling more like a cut-scene from something like SKYRIM or any other fantasy game series.

 

All of this added up to some interest, and certainly some fans, but not to the Must See "It" factor that drove the first trilogy to such heights. The Hobbit movies didn't feel like the events of the year, they just felt like another blockbuster release.

 

 

I agree with some of this, but would you also say maybe Middle Earth franchise doesn't seem to have much appeal to younger audiences of today, and/or the 9 years between LOTR and The Hobbit wasn't enough for people to become "nostalgic" of the franchise? 

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I agree with some of this, but would you also say maybe Middle Earth franchise doesn't seem to have much appeal to younger audiences of today, and/or the 9 years between LOTR and The Hobbit wasn't enough for people to become "nostalgic" of the franchise? 

 

Hmmm, no, I don't think either of those were a factor. If PJ had delivered something of similar caliber to LOTR (or perhaps putting it a different way: something similar to what people's emotional memories were of LOTR), then I think the gross would be more along those lines.

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Hmmm, no, I don't think either of those were a factor. If PJ had delivered something of similar caliber to LOTR (or perhaps putting it a different way: something similar to what people's emotional memories were of LOTR), then I think the gross would be more along those lines.

 

 

I would agree with this, but I mentioned in my original post how it seems even if the movie wasn't as good as people were expecting, they still did huge numbers on par with the originals. Also, tracking for Jurassic World is making this look like another example as well. 

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I would agree with this, but I mentioned in my original post how it seems even if the movie wasn't as good as people were expecting, they still did huge numbers on par with the originals. Also, tracking for Jurassic World is making this look like another example as well. 

 

The first one did, for sure, at least in terms of dollar gross. The admissions drop hurt it, though -- especially for the sequels.

 

Another (possible) problem was the series didn't really hit a home-run for any sub-demo (with the exception of James). ;) The diehard Tolkien fans were angry (for all the digressions/inventions), the knowledgeable fans were mixed (for the same reasons), the LOTR movie-fans were let down (at its core, it's a simpler, lighter story no matter how epic PJ tried to make it), the kids (to some degree) were distracted/bored/scared... there wasn't a single base of fans that could provide absolute rock-solid support and approval (with the exception, I guess, of diehard PJ-fans).

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The first one did, for sure, at least in terms of dollar gross. The admissions drop hurt it, though -- especially for the sequels.

 

Another (possible) problem was the series didn't really hit a home-run for any sub-demo (with the exception of James). ;) The diehard Tolkien fans were angry (for all the digressions/inventions), the knowledgeable fans were mixed (for the same reasons), the LOTR movie-fans were let down (at its core, it's a simpler, lighter story no matter how epic PJ tried to make it), the kids (to some degree) were distracted/bored/scared... there wasn't a single base of fans that could provide absolute rock-solid support and approval (with the exception, I guess, of diehard PJ-fans).

And again, that's the US' fault. The 3 movies are no. 2, 3 and 4 highest grossing ever here behind Avatar and they all had great legs. Americans... :P

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The first one did, for sure, at least in terms of dollar gross. The admissions drop hurt it, though -- especially for the sequels.

 

Another (possible) problem was the series didn't really hit a home-run for any sub-demo (with the exception of James). ;) The diehard Tolkien fans were angry (for all the digressions/inventions), the knowledgeable fans were mixed (for the same reasons), the LOTR movie-fans were let down (at its core, it's a simpler, lighter story no matter how epic PJ tried to make it), the kids (to some degree) were distracted/bored/scared... there wasn't a single base of fans that could provide absolute rock-solid support and approval (with the exception, I guess, of diehard PJ-fans).

 

 

I agree 100% that the filmmakers could have made some better decisions thus resulting in some even more satisfying films and better WOM, but do you also think WB could have done more. I feel they didn't really try to make the films feel like any sort of event at all. They could have released a trailer with the TDKR back in 2012 or done some special kind of presentations similar to what is being done with the new Star Wars film, obviously LOTR franchise is clearly no SW in America but I feel like who knows. DOS also had a really good trailer that was only released on the internet. 

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Overall imo they did well. We've seen worse drops between sequels, Matrix Reloaded to Matrix Revolutions, Star Wars The Phantom Menace to Attack of the Clones, Transformers 3 to 4, Pirates 3 to 4, heck the Hunger Games Catching Fire to Mocking Jay 1. Each of these films fell off domestically by over 100 million, except for the hunger games (technically 87 million). The Hobbit sequels were pretty consistently in domestic gross 250 and WW gross around 950. 

 

In fact the drop domestically was similar to Harry Potter 1-3. The first was the 300 million grosser, then a 50 million plus drop to Chamber and then another 10 million plus drop to Prisoner of Azkaban. I don't recall anyone writing a narrative of how terrible Potter's performance was or how much the series didn't connect with audiences or any other nonsense. I think you can't look at RT scores as a reason, Twilight and Transformers say hello, nor can you simply try and say it was all the backlash on the internet since that's only a small part of the audience even domestically.

 

I think marketing is responsible for putting butts in sits even before reviews or word of mouth starts. The marketing, specifically the trailers simply did not engage major swaths of the American Public like the previous trailers of the LOTR did.

 

Was it the tone? Was the Hobbit seen as uncool among the younger crowds unlike the super heroes dominating domestic cinemas? Heck the Hobbit, the word itself, is used negatively like a put down to describe people folks don't like. Look up the South Park parody clip of Kanye West calling Kim Kardashian a Hobbit. In the states being called a Hobbit is not a cool thing but an actual diss and it doesn't even have anything to do with being short. I think the zeitgeist of seeing Middle Earth for the first time (for the masses) had already passed and there was unfortunately (I don't agree) a been there done that feeling with the Hobbit marketing.

 

Also maybe from a literary perspective, the Hobbit (which is my favorite book Tolkien wrote) is not as popular or critically acclaimed as LOTR. The LOTR has sold over 50-100 million (depends on where you look) more books than the Hobbit. It's not as popular as the LOTR which was published 17 years after the Hobbit was first printed. So only being 60% as popular as the LOTR theatrically was actually similar to their relationship in the literary world in terms of sales. Though the Hobbit is respected for being a great children's tale and is afforded that distinction from the LOTR because it came first.

 

In the cinema world the Hobbit had to follow the LOTR (the mass public's first interaction with Middle Earth) and reducing the epicness of a world changing event to a lesser tale of gold and dragon slaying further gave the impression that the Hobbit was not as important or serious as the LOTR. 

 

I think they still performed well.    

Edited by sensui

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I think there are a few reasons, putting aside any issue of "quality" (since that's largely subjective).

 

First, whether rightly or wrongly, the Hobbit movies came under fairly heavy criticism -- even before release -- by expanding from two films to three (or even whether they should've been only one to start). So from the get-go, people were extra-aware of anything that might be related to pacing issues, more-so than they might've been otherwise.

 

Secondly, I think PJ's efforts to combine the "lighter" elements of the primary Hobbit narrative with the "darker" LOTR aesthetic were mixed, at best. Even granting the partial success of, say, incorporating the reveal of Sauron into the movies, for the most part the additions felt "LOTR-lite", and not in a great way. PJ was in love with the Middle-Earth universe, and that also led him astray into too many subplots, most of which didn't ultimately justify their screen-time. Even people who really enjoyed the movies, I think, would question the need to spend so much time on the Master of Laketown (for example).

 

The general audience wouldn't care (or even notice) some of this, of course, but one of the side effects of all this adding was that Bilbo -- one of the trilogy's great strengths, especially with Martin Freeman's performance -- was increasingly sidelined with little to do for huge chunks of all the movies; and, one or two dwarves aside, not enough was done to really make any of them that interesting. So we ended up with a lot of scenes with epic sweep and scale, but with side characters (the main Orcs, in particular) feeling more like a cut-scene from something like SKYRIM or any other fantasy game series.

 

All of this added up to some interest, and certainly some fans, but not to the Must See "It" factor that drove the first trilogy to such heights. The Hobbit movies didn't feel like the events of the year, they just felt like another blockbuster release.

 

Very eloquently put.

 

But a better reason is they fucking sucked.  :)

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I think there are a few reasons, putting aside any issue of "quality" (since that's largely subjective).

 

First, whether rightly or wrongly, the Hobbit movies came under fairly heavy criticism -- even before release -- by expanding from two films to three (or even whether they should've been only one to start). So from the get-go, people were extra-aware of anything that might be related to pacing issues, more-so than they might've been otherwise.

 

Secondly, I think PJ's efforts to combine the "lighter" elements of the primary Hobbit narrative with the "darker" LOTR aesthetic were mixed, at best. Even granting the partial success of, say, incorporating the reveal of Sauron into the movies, for the most part the additions felt "LOTR-lite", and not in a great way. PJ was in love with the Middle-Earth universe, and that also led him astray into too many subplots, most of which didn't ultimately justify their screen-time. Even people who really enjoyed the movies, I think, would question the need to spend so much time on the Master of Laketown (for example).

 

The general audience wouldn't care (or even notice) some of this, of course, but one of the side effects of all this adding was that Bilbo -- one of the trilogy's great strengths, especially with Martin Freeman's performance -- was increasingly sidelined with little to do for huge chunks of all the movies; and, one or two dwarves aside, not enough was done to really make any of them that interesting. So we ended up with a lot of scenes with epic sweep and scale, but with side characters (the main Orcs, in particular) feeling more like a cut-scene from something like SKYRIM or any other fantasy game series.

 

All of this added up to some interest, and certainly some fans, but not to the Must See "It" factor that drove the first trilogy to such heights. The Hobbit movies didn't feel like the events of the year, they just felt like another blockbuster release.

 

 

This sums it up perfectly for me.

 

There are two very good movies in this trilogy.

Edited by ShouldIBeHere

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This sums it up perfectly for me.

 

There are two very good movies in this trilogy.

 

well I was just wondering why even from the very first movie they didn't attract anywhere near the audience people were expecting simply based on "nostalgia" for the original series alone, like other franchises did. 

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Unlike the Star Wars prequels, The Hobbit had also been previously dramatized in many other forms. There wasn't nearly the kind of novelty factor that those movies had going for them. 

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well I was just wondering why even from the very first movie they didn't attract anywhere near the audience people were expecting simply based on "nostalgia" for the original series alone, like other franchises did. 

 

LotR never had a really huge "unified" fandom behind its franchise. Certainly not on the Marvel, HP or SW level.

 

The LotR / Tolkien / Middle-earth fandom is much more diverse and much less focused on the movies.

 

That is why I am sure that AUJ was way over-predicted even if it had been received better. 

Edited by ShouldIBeHere

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