Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

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Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  eddie on Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:29 am

Elijah Wood: 'I was thrilled to play Frodo Baggins in The Hobbit'

Since Lord of the Rings, the actor has avoided big-budget epics. But now he's reprising his hobbit role and starring in a lavish Treasure Island adaptation

Steve Rose

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 December 2011 19.59 GMT


Elijah Wood: 'It was weird being back'. Photograph: Victoria Will/AP

Is that the Ring? Around the ring finger of Elijah Wood's right hand is a band of silver with strange lettering on it – probably Elvish. As a reward for his lead hobbiting services in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson reportedly gave Wood the original Ring. And he still wears it. Doesn't he?

The Hobbit
Production year: 2011
Country: Rest of the world
Directors: Peter Jackson
Cast: Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry

"No. This is Hebrew, " he says, twirling the ring around his finger. "I know, it has a kind of a similar look to it."

Oh.

"I do have the Ring, but it's not inscribed, and it's gold. But I don't think it's real gold – gold-plated. But, no, I don't wear it. I keep it in a little box." Not on a chain around his neck? "I carried it for a long time," he says with mock solemnity.

It would be easy to imagine that in the years since Wood finally hurled that infernal ring into Mount Doom, he has still been burdened by it, dragging himself around an indifferent movie industry where nobody can see him as anything other than the hairy-footed little hero of a colossally successful movie trilogy. He's not at all like Frodo in real life, even if those big blue eyes still look like a special effect. He's dressed in standard hipster/skater attire – plaid shirt, skinny jeans – and he seems relaxed and chatty, often breaking into a bemused, falsetto laugh. If the fate of Star Wars' Mark Hamill ever awaited him, he seems to have avoided it, largely by doing as many un-Tolkeinesque things as possible.

"My immediate feeling after the first Rings movie came out was that I couldn't conceive of doing anything massive again," he says. "So the first thing I worked on was a movie barely anybody saw, called Ash Wednesday, and one of my reasons for doing it was because it was really tiny. I was only in makeup for four minutes a day!"

Wood also cropped up in middle-sized films such as Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Everything Is Illuminated and Sin City, but recently he has been further off the radar, in short films, web films, music and, increasingly, television. "It's definitely not been an intentional thing to shy away from mainstream cinema," he says. "It's more about seizing opportunities that I think are interesting."

This year we've seen him channelling the Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock in their half-hour Fight for Your Right Revisited film, in which he takes drugs, gets stabbed by Chloë Sevigny and ends up urinating over the Beastie Boys from the future (it's a long, silly story). Then there's surreal TV sitcom Wilfred, in which Woods plays a suicidal loser whose life is turned around by a dog. Or rather, everyone else sees Wilfred as a dog; Wood sees him as a lairy Australian in a dog outfit. Before long, he is smoking bongs with his new canine buddy, and defecating in his neighbour's boots. What would Gandalf have to say about his behaviour?

This festive season we'll see a more family-friendly Wood gracing our screens, thank God, in Sky's lavish new rendition of Treasure Island. In the wake of a certain other colossal pirate-related movie franchise, it is amazing nobody thought of dusting off Stevenson's classic before, but this two-parter steers away from Johnny Depp-style camp in the direction of HBO's dark seriousness. There's a bit of dirt and grime to the affair, and the casting is an interesting multiracial mix, with a shaven-headed Eddie Izzard as the wily Long John Silver.

"They described it as Goodfellas with pirates," Wood laughs, as if not quite convinced himself. He plays Ben Gunn, the castaway who comes to figure in the second half of the two-part drama, which was filmed in Puerto Rico. As well as working with Izzard, one of his heroes, Wood relished the chance to create the look of his character – dreadlocks, trinkets, tribal face paint, serious suntan. "I guess he looks like he's been on an island on his own for three years. He's gone down his personal little rabbit hole. And he's mad about cheese. I have some wonderful moments with cheese."

Wood also raves about the fact that Treasure Island's director, Steve Barron, directed some classic music videos of the 80s, including A-Ha's Take On Me and Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. "How about that? Fuckin' incredible isn't it? He was part of that first wave that started with music videos, at that time when MTV had just started. A lot of those guys came into movies that way – David Fincher, Michael Bay …"

Wood was part of that wave too, in a way. His very first job, aged eight, was in the video for Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl, directed by Fincher. More work followed in commercials, TV shows and music videos, and by 10 he had his first proper movie role, as an immigrant boy in 1930s Baltimore in Barry Levinson's Avalon. The industry liked what it saw and he was off, growing up and learning on the job in movies such as Forever Young, Rob Reiner's North, The Ice Storm and The Faculty. "In some ways my work as a child feels separate. Like I've had two different careers."

Growing up as a child actor in the city of sin traditionally involves checking into rehab before your voice has broken, but Wood avoided that phase. Even he seems surprised. "The only thing I can attribute it to is my mother, and her focus on raising me as a good person above all else. Which isn't to say I haven't had fun. I haven't lead a boring life. But I wasn't … troubled."

Wood's current state doesn't seem to trouble him that much either. Having risen to fame as a cute innocent kid, then a diminutive, desexualised fantasy figure, his status as a mature performer must still be in the balance. But he sees his lower profile less as a result of any "curse of the Ring" than a reflection of the increasingly polarised movie industry: "It's like there's no middle class of movies any more," he complains. "It's either minuscule budgets or it's fucking $200m. You don't need to spend that much money! And it's sort of failing. A lot of films have come out this year that were supposed to be huge and haven't been. That's a bad trend."

Wasn't The Lord of the Rings part of that trend?

"Yeah, it was kind of, wasn't it? I'm biased, but the thing that separates Rings from that crop is that it felt like the world's biggest independent film. It was new territory for everyone, so we were figuring shit out as we went along. Peter [Jackson] was knocking on people's doors asking if we could use their land to pick up some shots. The scale was massive, of course, but it never felt like a blockbuster; it felt intimate and small. Hollywood doesn't always include that spirit."

Which could explain why Wood has returned to the world of big, expensive franchise movies. He's just back from New Zealand, where he was shooting, er, The Hobbit. JRR Tolkien's predecessor to The Lord of the Rings didn't feature Frodo, but Jackson's two-part adaptation, which stars Martin Freeman, has found a way to incorporate the character. Did he think twice about it?

"No. When they told me they had written something that could possibly make it into film, I was thrilled. And I knew it would be really small." Was it weird going back? "Totally! Oh man. That was surreal being in the Bag End set, which is exactly the same, except they've added some new space to it. There are two giant new stages there that are soundproofed. With the old one, you could hear planes overhead."

So what's next?

"Ha ha!" he says, breaking into the falsetto laugh again. He's about to play the killer in a remake of 1980s horror Maniac, he enthuses. It will be shot entirely from his point of view. Then there's another season of Wilfred. And he is about to start his own production company. "I'm loving it, and we haven't even made a movie yet!" Perhaps he can make some of those mid-range movies he's missing. At least there are no more Tolkien books to adapt. "The most surreal thing about going back to New Zealand," he says, "was that I actually turned 19 the first time we were there, in Hobbiton. January 2000. I'm 30 now. It's been that long. I've been in this business for 22 years. Crazy isn't it?"

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Re: Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  eddie on Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:41 am

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer lets the darkness bind it

On this showing, Peter Jackson has managed to maintain the tone he took in adapting Tolkien's much icier Lord of the Rings

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2011/dec/21/hobbit-unexpected-journey-trailer?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

What would JRR Tolkien, creator of Middle-earth, halflings, Istari and ringwraiths, have thought of the first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of Peter Jackson's long-awaited return to the Lord of the Rings universe? One suspects he might have envied the New Zealand film-maker's ability to retrospectively fashion a tone for his new movie that is entirely in keeping with the three earlier films – and he would have loved the singing.

The Hobbit
Production year: 2011
Country: Rest of the world
Directors: Peter Jackson
Cast: Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry

Tolkien's Hobbit is a very different tale to its later, darker sequel – a gentle, often whimsical children's yarn with an almost Brothers Grimm-like quality. Even in the midst of Mirkwood or the depths of the misty mountains, there is very little real horror in its telling: Bilbo Baggins, a wizard named Gandalf and a cavalcade of dwarves may journey into extreme peril, but their travails are always presented as if through the cosy, fuzzy prism of a child's glass bauble. We're never in any doubt that, no matter how bad things get, it is all part of a wonderful adventure. There's very little of the sinister overtone and sense of irredeemable loss that pervades the book's brilliantly icy and expansive sequels.

Tolkien did re-edit The Hobbit to take account of the shift in emphasis seen in the Lord of the Rings, but a second, more extensive rewrite in which he tried to bring the two works closer together in storytelling style was left abandoned when the author realised he was destroying the idiosyncracies that made The Hobbit a joy. From the opening frame of the trailer it's clear Jackson has finished the job, but crucially it does not appear he has overcooked his attempt to make An Unexpected Journey feel like a movie set in a recognisable celluloid Middle-earth.

Howard Shore's stirring, sumptuous orchestral themes are instantly recognisable from the earlier films, and the Shire doesn't appear to have changed one bit since The Return of the King. I always liked Gandalf the Grey rather better than his more ethereal counterpart, Gandalf the White, and The Hobbit is a fabulous opportunity to return Ian McKellen to one of his most recognisable roles, huge prosthetic conk and all. The dwarves look suitably jolly, though rather more youthful and fresh-faced than I'd imagined them. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield has a certain Aragornish regality to him that I did not expect, though it makes a sort of sense in the context of the later films. We only get a brief glimpse of Andy Serkis's Gollum, whose treatment will be central to Jackson's task. Should he – and can he – be less sinister than the miserable creature of Lord of the Rings? There's no sign of the dragon Smaug, whom one would expect to appear in the second film, There and Back Again.

The one area I'm not quite sure about is the singing. Tolkien peppered The Hobbit's prose with numerous dwarvish songs, and the Lord of the Rings had its fair share of poetic chants and ditties. Jackson wisely left most of them out – I think I'm right in saying that the most obvious example is Aragorn's cringeworthy croon in The Return of the King – but this time around he's clearly embracing the twee. The dwarves' song is at the heart of the trailer, and it doesn't seem so out of place.

It's worth pointing out, however, that those who already find more whimsy than wonder in this film series are likely to find the new movie even more ridiculous than the earlier trilogy. The sight of so many grown men dressed as fairytale homunculi is ripe for piss-taking on a grand scale, yet Jackson is undeniably right to adopt a slightly cheerier, more comic atmosphere this time around. It seems to me that An Unexpected Journey looks just about "Hobbity" enough to please fans of the earlier book and those who want to see a more epic Rings-style adventure.

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Re: Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:44 am

With the Jackson films, it bugged me how every line of dialogue was filled with SWEEPING EPIC PORTENT (aside from obligatory comic relief bits about how hobbits enjoy food) and an unceasing blaring SWEEPING EPIC musical score slathered over every moment. If studio suits tried to force one of those insipid nonstop scores on Orson Welles, he would write back a sassy memo what said "Why don't you just insert Donald the Duck and Pluto the Pup into the picture, because you're Mickey Mousing the goddam thing to death." One of the unspoken rules of the Ring Fellowship is that at least every minute, members must gaze at the horizon filled with a sense of fateful foreboding. "As a son of Ventuzler, I pledge to vanquish the inert glowing eye vagina thing that is fond of bad weather."




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Re: Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  Andy on Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:53 am

I think I've told this before: Elijah made me realise I liked men instead of women.
So I have a soft spot for him, even a part from the fact that I find him attractive.

Ironically I don't think there's any movie starring Elijah I (still) actually like.

He does come off as a genuinely nice and kind person. And I don't really care for movies all that much, any way.

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Re: Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:12 pm

Elijah is a master of human psychology and its expression. The full emotional array is on display with Wood's Froder - including and limited to looking like he has serious indigestion (when he stresses about his ring melting task) and looking generally pleased with food discussion / cute antics of hobbnits.

Take the dull acting of Wood / Bloom, the stoicism of Viggo, and the creepy android quality of Liv Tyler, then have them deliver every single line like it will be remembered and recited by ice elves for 1000 generations while the strings swell - the Jackson Recipe. Sure, there's Sir Ian, but he falls of a cliff halfway thru the first film and doesn't do all that much afterwards. If your human characters are much less interesting than your computer-generated, lethargic talking trees, there may be a problemo.




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Re: Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:31 am

You'll like this one, user:
********************************************************************************************************
JRR Tolkien's Nobel prize chances dashed by 'poor prose'

Lord of the Rings author, nominated by CS Lewis, rejected by 1961 jury, newly opened archive reveals

Alison Flood

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 January 2012 11.44 GMT


JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings appendix "Born of Hope" being filmed in 2008. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty

The Lord of the Rings might have spawned a thousand pallid imitations, been crowned the UK's best-loved book and sold millions of copies around the world, but according to newly declassified documents, it was damned by the Nobel prize jury on the grounds of JRR Tolkien's second-rate prose.

The mysterious workings of the Nobel committee remain a secret until 50 years after the award is made, when the archive for that year is opened in the Nobel library in Stockholm. Swedish reporter Andreas Ekström delved into 1961's previously classified documents on their release this week, to find the jury passed over names including Lawrence Durrell, Robert Frost, Graham Greene, EM Forster and Tolkien to come up with their eventual winner, Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andrić.

While Andrić was lauded for "the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country", other nominated writers received shorter shrift from the Nobel committee, Ekström revealed in Swedish newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet.

The prose of Tolkien – who was nominated by his friend and fellow fantasy author CS Lewis – "has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality", wrote jury member Anders Österling. Frost, on the other hand, was dismissed because of his "advanced age" – he was 86 at the time – with the jury deciding the American poet's years were "a fundamental obstacle, which the committee regretfully found it necessary to state". Forster was also ruled out for his age – a consideration that no longer bothers the jury, which awarded the prize to the 87-year-old Doris Lessing in 2007 – with Österling calling the author "a shadow of his former self, with long lost spiritual health".

Durrell, meanwhile, "gives a dubious aftertaste … because of [his] monomaniacal preoccupation with erotic complications", while Italian novelist Alberto Moravia "suffers from … a general monotony".

Greene, who never won the Nobel, was 1961's runner-up, with Danish writer Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, coming in third.

"I have been doing this as a bit of a personal and journalistical tradition the past five years or so, and this was the first time I have seen Tolkien's name among the suggested candidates," said Ekström. "Today, there are usually about 300 suggestions each year – back then, it was more often around 50. Not anyone can suggest a winner. The Swedish Academy invites certain academics, former winners and other institutional representatives to nominate, and can itself of course nominate too.

"The academy keeps a strict secrecy around the archives for 50 years, but doesn't reveal everything. The final decision is made without any notes ever becoming public. But the list of suggestions is indeed public, with some commentary to it. Tolkien was nominated by CS Lewis, that was the first thing I saw … Lewis was a professor of literature, and hence qualified to nominate. However, the short commentary from Anders Österling, the dominant literature critic in the academy, was fairly sour. He basically just said about the [Lord of the Rings] trilogy: 'the result has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality'. Wham!"

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Re: Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  Yakima Canutt on Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:35 pm

I thought Peter Jackson bore most of the blame ... as I remember delighting in HOBBIT book when I was at summer camp in Lucknow, and who could forget the 1977 Hobbit-toon presented by the National Broadcasting Company but animated by Japaneses (or the Ralphie Bakshi uber-condensed rotoscope-toon about defeating the floating fire vagina).

But, I now look at Tolkeen text for "Der Ring Cycle" and ... o my ... it seems like it was written by an automaton, or "robot".

"You may say this to Théoden son of Thengel: open war lies before him, with Sauron or against him. None may live now as they have lived, and few shall keep what they call their own. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."

I wonder if Tolkeen was autistic, or a computor prograhm. Still, if that's in the source material, Jackson doesn't have to emphasize the developmentally disabled aspect of it. See, if intrepid champeens are going on a ring-melting kwest, they would not know their feats are the stuff of legend and elfsong, so they shouldn't act like it. I'm not saying they should have the demeanor of Bruce Willis, but there should be some effort to make the assorted sons of whatnot slightly resemble sentient lifeforms.

Unless... unless ... Jackson intended for Golums The Digital Ring Junkie to be far more sympathetic than the human actors, and this was his subversive masterstroke as one who grew up among the Maori of the Maungakotukutuku basin...


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Re: Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  eddie on Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:44 am

Hobbit forming: will Peter Jackson give Tolkien's story a new ending?

The dark arts of film demanded Jackson ham up the love story in LOTR, but bringing the Necromancer – later Sauron – into The Hobbit's denouement could break the story's spell altogether


Bitter end? … Benedict Cumberbatch, who is set to play Smaug and the Necromancer in Peter Jackson's Hobbit films. Photograph: Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

Fans of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy who have also read the original JRR Tolkien books will no doubt remember the uncomfortable moment in The Return of the King when Hugo Weaving's Elrond rocks up rather randomly at Dunharrow and starts spouting nonsense about Arwen's fate being tied inextricably to the fate of the ring. It wasn't in the book, and it wouldn't have been in the movie had Jackson and his team not been determined to give the romance between Aragorn and his elven belle more screen time in line with Hollywood convention.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Production year: 2013
Directors: Peter Jackson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom

Never mind, most of us thought, forgiving a film-making team that had pulled off a minor miracle in bringing Tolkien's fantasy work to the big screen at all, and managed to do so with great care and brio. I wonder if we'll be so generous if new rumours that Jackson is planning to change the end of The Hobbit turn out to have any basis in fact.

Empire online spoke recently to Benedict Cumberbatch, the Sherlock star suspected of possessing his own magic ring that requires all major Hollywood directors to cast him in their latest productions. As well as voicing the dragon Smaug and the Necromancer (who morphs into evil eye Sauron for the Lord of the Rings) in Jackson's two-part take on The Hobbit, the British actor is also in line for a turn as the major villain in JJ Abrams's Star Trek II and is currently starring as Major Stewart in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-tipped War Horse. If you don't want to know anything about his Hobbity ventures before December 2013, when second instalment There and Back Again hits cinemas, TURN AWAY NOW.

"I'm playing Smaug through motion-capture and voicing the Necromancer, which is a character in the Five Legions War or something which I'm meant to understand," Cumberbatch told Empire. "He's not actually in the original Hobbit. It's something [Peter Jackson]'s taken from Lord of the Rings that he wants to put in there."

Hang on a minute. The Necromancer at the Battle of Five Armies (which is surely what Cumberbatch is referring to here)? Tolkienistas will know that the aforementioned conflict, a five-way rumpus involving dwarves, elves, goblins, wargs and men for the treasures of Erebor, marks the denouement of The Hobbit. There is little indication in the book that it has anything much to do with Sauron, who has recently been kicked out of Mirkwood by the White Council in events we hear about from Gandalf in retrospect. The idea that the Necromancer turns up to lead a battalion of (presumably) goblins seems to come from way out of left field. It's a bit like remaking the original Star Wars trilogy and inserting the ewoks in the first movie (OK, perhaps not quite that bad).

Could Cumberbatch have got it wrong? He does seem a little confused about his Tolkien terminology, so we can only hope that befuddlement is to blame here. With so many different roles to play in 2012 and beyond, who can blame him for getting a little mixed up?

Jackson has already shown a propensity towards presenting The Hobbit in a form which allows it to segue comfortably into the Lord of the Rings, and there's not much wrong with that. After all, Tolkien himself revised his earlier book after delving into deeper, darker territory in its three-part sequel. Few have complained that Galadriel, Saruman and even Legolas are due to appear in The Hobbit, since the book's background events offer Jackson some licence to include them, but allowing the Necromancer to play a major role in the film project's finale seems to me a step too far.

The Hobbit's major villain is Smaug, and nothing should be allowed to undermine that. The mean old worm may be an evil brute with a heart of frozen, inky darkness, but he is unconnected to Sauron and the dark lord's more ambitious machinations. Most would be happy to see the new films prefigure the rise of evil in Middle Earth, but few would expect to see the later books' villain promoted to a major antagonist before his time. By all means let's see the Necromancer get kicked out of Mirkwood, but please keep him well clear of the Lonely Mountain. Mordor is, after all, rather a long way south.

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Re: Elijah Wood on The Hobbit and other matters

Post  eddie on Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:41 pm

Save The Hobbit: Now 'Gandalf' gives his backing to pub threatened with legal action

By Nicholas Petche | Yahoo! News


Sir Ian McKellen is supporting The Hobbit pub's battle to keep its name. Photo: PAFirst it was Stephen Fry and now Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in 'The Lord Of The Rings’ films, has spoken up for a British pub called The Hobbit after lawyers in Hollywood threatened legal action.

They want the pub in Southampton, which serves cocktails named after characters in the JRR Tolkien book such as 'Frodo' and 'Gandalf', to choose another name.

But now Gandalf himself, Sir Ian, has lent his support to let the pub, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The 72-year-old actor wrote on his Website: "Gandalf's portrait hangs outside The Hobbit pub ... and has done for the last 20 years and more. I haven't been there but it's clearly not a place to ill-treat hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards, in any way. So what's the problem?

He goes on: "I am a part-landlord of a pub called The Grapes. So far no vintners' group has objected. That would be silly of course. As is this unnecessary pettiness. More Alice's Wonderland than Tolkien's Middle-earth. Harrumph.

"I haven't yet talked to Stephen Fry about his disapproval of this Hollywood bullying but I'm with him all the way. All the way to The Hobbit pub once filming is over in July."

Stephen Fry, who is currently working on a film of the book in New Zealand, tweeted on Tuesday: “Honestly, @saveTheHobbit, sometimes I'm ashamed of the business I'm in. What pointless, self-defeating bullying."

A Save the Hobbit Facebook page was set up a week ago by student Heather Cartwright from Southampton University and has attracted massive support with 50,000 likes and counting.

Pub landlady Stella Mary Roberts told the BBC that changing the name of The Hobbit and any references inside would cost 'thousands'.

But last night, it emerged that the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) threatening the public house wanted to resolve the matter amicably.


Producers are demanding the pub to change its name and remove all references to the Tolkien classic. Photo:PA

Save the Hobbit campaigners said: "The SZC wishes to avoid a lengthy court battle with Punch Taverns.

"They have asked that we arrange to operate by way of License and that they would grant this License for a nominal fee of $100 (£63) per annum."

It continued: "Just to clarify, the fight for The Hobbit is NOT over yet; more detail to come from Stella soon. Good work, and keep spreading the word."



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