Peter Jackson Recalls “Winging It” With The Hobbit, Despite Trilogy’s Multi-Million Dollar Success


Warner Bros. may have attracted the ire of ardent supporters of J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal The Lord of the Rings franchise when it opted to split the author’s prequel novel The Hobbit across three separate films. Given the concise nature of the fantasy tale of one Bilbo Baggins, expanding the story across a trio of feature-length pictures read as a sure-fire mean to jump-start the property’s box office potential, and sure enough, now that the curtain has fallen on Peter Jackson’s prequel series, WB has pulled in a staggering $3 billion worldwide.

But although the studio evidently had mapped out expansive plans for The Hobbit, Peter Jackson was seemingly less prepared when he took the reins from Guillermo del Toro in 2010. As a matter of fact, in a refreshingly frank piece included on the Battle of the Five Armies DVD, the director admitted that he was, and we quote, “making it up as we go along.”


Preparing to shoot on the fantasy epics without storyboards and completed scripts, the New Zealand director has revealed to The Guardian that he was “winging it” more often than not while filming the Middle-earth blockbuster. Here, he levels on the rather unorthodox creative process:

“Because Guillermo Del Toro had to leave and I jumped in and took over, we didn’t wind the clock back a year and a half and give me a year and a half prep to design the movie, which was different to what he was doing. It was impossible, and as a result of it being impossible I just started shooting the movie with most of it not prepped at all.”

Such a “chaotic” approach naturally had an impact on the films themselves, explaining why Battle of the Five Armies was hit with a five-month delay early last year, pushing the conclusive chapter into a December release date. Recounting the 21-hour days during crunch time, Jackson also touched upon the tentative nature of the script, in what quickly became a high pressure situation.

“You’re going on to a set and you’re winging it, you’ve got these massively complicated scenes, no storyboards and you’re making it up there and then on the spot […] I spent most of The Hobbit feeling like I was not on top of it ][…] even from a script point of view Fran [Walsh], Philippa [Boyens] and I hadn’t got the entire scripts written to our satisfaction so that was a very high pressure situation.”

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is now available across Blu-ray and DVD.