December 17, 2014, is the end of an era.
I know for myself and many other Tolkien fans, young and old, this is the last time we will ever get to step into Middle Earth, "for the first time," ever again. The last time we'll sit down in a sold-out, packed-to-the-last-seat theatre, hold our breath as the lights dim and Howard Shore's iconic score kicks in. The last time to catch the scent of pipeweed, climb the steps to Bag End, and crawl into our favorite hobbit hole for one final adventure.
...or is it?
In a recent interview with IGN at WonderCon 2014, Thorin Oakenshield himself, Richard Armitage was asked about the possibility of future spin-offs - original or pulled from the many books - into Middle Earth:
"We did touch on that in the films. I'm always fascinated with these characters, and the fact that Tolkien really puts his own history into his writing. He goes back and retrospectively fits the world around his characters. Yeah! That would be something that I'm fascinated with.
And on whether they were currently discussing it:
"No, we haven't, but I think about it because I write a biography for my character. I go right into the history. So, who knows?"
Peter Jackson's films have been lauded for their ability to capture the spirit of Tolkien's world while standing strong on their own as film adaptations, but some felt that with the most recent entry, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Jackson may have opened a door for the studios to take free reign with creative license. After all, if we can change the stories as we see fit, why not write a new one? Better yet, why not just explore any of the hundreds of other stories contained within Middle Earth's coffers?
Some see this as a road to ruin(ed childhoods), but for me personally, if we could find a way to crack open the wealth of stories in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, or the appendices I would more than welcome it, as long as we placed it in the hands of a careful, considerate screenwriter and a passionate, committed director. Maybe Guillermo del Toro could have a shot at Middle Earth after all?
Either way, let me know in the comments below if the studios need to bury the axe, or if Jackson and crew still have yours?
The Hobbit: There and Back Again, or is it Into the Fire now? (Back In the Fire Again, There) releases in the US on December 17, 2014.