Yesterday, Deadline reported that Warner Bros had gained worldwide theatrical distribution rights to Peter Jackson's two-part adaptation of The Hobbit. They later updated their story to announce that the studio would be financing both installments of the project as well.
Their update also briefly mentioned that negotiations were underway for Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis to reprise their roles from The Lord of the Rings trilogy - and that Elijah Wood had been approached as well.
Considering that the Frodo Baggins character doesn't appear in J.R.R. Tolkien's original Hobbit story, this seemed like an interesting tidbit that warranted further investigation. Earlier this month, we learned that Orlando Bloom might be returning as Legolas and while his character isn't featured in The Hobbit either, he still plausibly fits into the timeline. Frodo hasn't even been born yet when the events of the Hobbit story take place.
TheOneRing.net is now confirming that Wood is definitely on board, but Tolkien purists can relax - they're not taking any serious liberties with the beloved source material. So how exactly will the character be integrated into the two films? The following could probably be classified as spoilers, so you've been warned...
According to TheOneRing:
As readers of “The Hobbit” know, the tale of “The Downfall of The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit or There and Back Again,” are contained in the fictional “Red Book of Westmarch.” In Peter Jackson’s LOTR films, the books are shown on screen and written in by Bilbo and Frodo and handed off to Sam Gamgee. (Not explained on film are Sam’s progeny later having the book and being Wardens of the Westmarch — hence the book’s title.)
The fictional book, and either the telling from it or the reading of it, will establish Frodo in the films experiencing Bilbo’s story. Viewers too learn the tale of ‘The Hobbit’ with a familiar Frodo getting the tale as well.
They confirm that Frodo will be featured in the opening sequence of the first film and to me it sounds like there's potential for him to routinely pop up at various points throughout the story (à la the Fred Savage/Peter Falk segments in The Princess Bride). As the article mentions, it's unclear whether Frodo will be the one telling the story or listening to it. Which has me thinking...
If Frodo is simply listening to the tale, perhaps Ian Holm could return as the older Bilbo to further connect The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Guillermo del Toro was eager to utilize Holm somewhere in the films when he was still involved with the project, so maybe Peter Jackson is receptive to the idea as well.
I suppose some fans might be put off by the idea of Frodo being shoehorned into the plot of The Hobbit, but to me this actually feels like a very organic way of framing the story. If they announce a young Aragorn cameo, I'll start to get nervous.
I have to say, it's pretty encouraging to hear how this production is shaping up - casting is nearly complete, Howard Shore is returning to score, and Jackson will be shooting the films in cutting-edge 3D. This is certainly a dramatic departure from where we were a few months ago when the fate of the project was unknown.
The Hobbit: Part 1 is scheduled to reach regular, 3D, and IMAX 3D theaters on December 19th, 2012. Part 2 will arrive a year later in December of 2013.