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THE HOBBIT Movies Have More Minutes of Film Than Book Pages

THE HOBBIT Movies Have More Minutes of Film Than Book Pages

If you read J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit when you were young like me, you’ll remember that it was a relatively quick read. It was mostly hurried recollections of Bilbo that didn’t pause for long river barrel massacres or battles between a few armies. Peter Jackson’s adaption of the book, however, might at least feel a bit longer. Looking at the stats, Jackson’s trilogy is one of the only book adaptations in recent memory that have more minutes of movie than pages of source material.

Walt Hickey conducted this nerdy analysis over at FiveThirtyEight. To see how the Hobbit films stack up against other novel adaptations in Hollywood, Hickey sampled 54 popular films released since 2000 ranging from Harry Potter to The Bourne Identity. After finding a good figure for running time and page count (and where to split off books that spawned multiple movies), he produced the following chart:


So what did Hickey find? He puts it bluntly, โ€œThe Hobbit movies are the only films with more minutes of film than book pages.” In fact, with only 72 pages worth of material to work with in The Battle of the Five Armies, the latest Hobbit film has an “unprecedented” two minutes of movie for each page left in the novel.

Interestingly, it seems that Peter Jackson’s other Tolkien trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, is another statistical outlier. Despite the novels’ lengths, the movies still run much longer than the average.

You can see the full data set that Hickey compiled here.

For more about The Hobbit trilogy, check out yesterday’s episode of Nerdist News: Are More HOBBIT Films on the Way?!

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  1. Tim says:

    I guess no one bothered to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  It is a short story of about 12 pages turned into a 2 hour 46 minute movie.  Or Where the Wild Things Are.  Source material is 10 sentences.   The movie runs 101 minutes.  That’s 10 minutes per sentence.  Peter Jackson is a piker compared to these two.

    • Ed says:

      Arguably, they were better movies than the 3 Jackson made from HIS source material.                                                                                                                                            I liked the ‘Gandalf side quest’/Dol Guldurbattle w/badass Galadriel, I didn’t like the Angrid comedy, the Tauriel love story, the Legolas heroics,  the Bard/son arrow bonding (now sans bird), the endless Thorin madness, and the new reason why Bilbo ‘missed’ the battle.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And they got rid of Smaug as a PROLOGUE.

  2. Chickenface says:

    Yeah, but, see, it’s ok for Hobbit to have more minutes than pages – the pages are quite dense. What’s not OK is inventing characters and omitting stuff from the book.

  3. Luke says:

    A large portion of the scenes in the movie were constructed from the APPENDICES, which details the events that took place at Dol Guldur. Did you take into account those pages? Did you also take into account the fact that trying to use a correlation between hours of film and pages in a book is a completely asinine method of criticism? Bilbo was also knocked unconscious in the book towards the beginning of the battle, and not much detail is given surrounding the events that took place during his blackout. How satisfying of a film would it have been if we had misses the majority of the battle? The idea behind article is full of discrepancies.

  4. Arloa says:

    All this about how there is more to the novel that was left out and stuff, all crap. The whole 17 years they took to film these films, Peter would pour over notes and pages making sure it was relevant to the story. The time, however long it seems, is how the characters would have experienced it. You read faster than you do things. Then you get where everything you think was left out, in the extended editions! And that doesn’t even have everything! Plus, physical acting can only take you so far. Benedict Cumberbatch actually acted out Smaug and Sauron! A lot of the stunts were performed by the actors of the characters. Pages upon pages were studied by cast and crew to get this where it is. Peter, in my opinion, did an incredible job on research, as I understand where he got the material and why he did these films the way he did. There is only so much allowed for cinematic screen time, as well as film release. Being a starting out director myself, I completely understand. Wait to see the whole finished product, the extended editions have a lot left out added for people who think stuff was just “left out”. Also, watch the special features. See what the cast and crew were able to do and see why they did what they did. It is not that hard to do your research before blowing up on people because you don’t like something. There is only so much allowed. Detail is what Peter is good at. And don’t hound people who know what they are talking about. Personally, I love the films and cried for some sequences and through the end credits, because I grew up on these films and being read the books before bedtime. It’s an adaption of a beautiful story and deserves to be seen and not judged. Thank you.

  5. sinixter71 says:

    Gandalf is barely mentioned in the appendices and the events of DolGuldur  were never anything more than vague notes by Tolkien. I would have rather seen it left alone 

    • Sayer says:

      All of the original material HAS been left alone!  Nothing in the original material has been changed through the creation of these films.  There is wisdom in allowing oneself to enjoy these films, and others like it, as individual pieces of art, inspired by timeless, untouched masterpieces. 

  6. sinixter71 says:

    Obviously the people claiming the bulk of these films is from the appendices. Obviously you people have never truly read the appendices because none of the crap in these horrible films are anywhere in them. Other than character names and places, thats it. All the details are 100% bull crap out of peter jackson’s mind. I would have preferred 2 shorter films that stuck closer to the story than the crap we got. Why is Legolas a main character when Tolkien NEVER EVER wrote any of his participation in the Hobbit or the BO5A. Sad really when Tolkien gave Jackson all he needed and Jackson felt he needed to make up as much as he used from Tolkien.

    • Doddy Bigital says:

      Legolas is Thranduil’s son and was alive at the time of the events of the Hobbit (as retconned by Tolkien himself in LOTR), so not only does it make sense to have him in the Hobbit, in fact it would make NO sense for him to absent from the Battle of Five Armies. Tolkien would have written him into the Hobbit had his publisher not discouraged him from doing the rewrite he wanted to do, which is where many of the other notes come from.

      The appendices contained: The meeting of Gandalf and Thorin in Bree, the ousting of Sauron from Dol Guldur, and more stories of Dwarven history. They were glossed over as historical events, which are unfilmable without turning them into a narrative. You apparently have no idea how movies are adapted.

      The formerly-unnamed captain of the woodland elves was converted into the Tauriel character SO THAT THERE WOULD BE MORE THAN ONE FEMALE CHARACTER IN THE TRILOGY. This is important for escapism, because it’s for everybody, including little girls. Despite her less-than-great acting, it’s just a necessary move in this day and age.


      • Doddy Bigital says:

        Also, Azog was kept alive to make the final battle more thrilling; having only Bolg pursue them is rather underwhelming once the Hobbit stops being a children’s book and becomes an adventure story meant to fit with the other films.

        Radagast had his appearance in LOTR adapted to this series instead, and it also makes perfect sense here.

        Your exaggerations about how “none of this comes from the books” is just straight-up bullshit. 10% has changed, at the very worst. Jackson had access to Tolkien’s unpublished notes from his intended rewrite, which he wasn’t allowed to publish due to an older generation of overly-fragile sentimentally-possessive people (whose footsteps you’re following in)… but you just can’t accept that you simply have an opinion which isn’t somehow explainable using actual facts to show everyone else how right you are for being angry, so you have to blow shit out of proportion to validate your impotent nerdrage.

        Congratulations on that accomplishment.

  7. Josh Man says:

    This totally fails to take into account that a lot of the story of this trilogy is in the appendicies, not the book The Hobbit.  All of the Gandalf story is from there.  It’s a broader look at the events of this time.  Did it need to be three movies, probably not, but it’s not as if it was stretched any more than any of the other material listed here.

  8. Doddy Bigital says:


    People who complain on these grounds are nothing short of hipster whiners who can’t form an opinion of their own and default to cynicism because that’s what looks the most sensible to our society.

    You don’t like them? Congratulations on your opinion. But you’re trying to put it down to a particular reason which is ABSOLUTELY IRRELEVANT.

    We are nothing more than a swarm of locust-people who barf things up to worship and then devour them all over again on a whim.

    • Can you please direct us to the Appendices mentioning Taurel or Asshog the defiler?

      • Doddy Bigital says:

        I don’t have to, genius. They’re in the book.

        Azog was simply kept alive so as to provide a more potent motivation for Thorin and a more realistic explanation for the emotional burden which leads to his insanity. Tauriel was just given a name and a gender instead of being an unnamed captain of the woodland elves (otherwise the entire film would contain only one woman—from the appendices, no less). You won’t find me defending the love story, but I will defend Jackson’s need to differentiate the dwarves and give them their own personalities; the love story was a part of that.

        The Hobbit isn’t a good enough book to translate word-for-word into a contemporary film, and certainly not one which can exist in the same world as the LOTR films. Cry about it all you want, but it’s true.

        • Mike says:

          YES! You are talking my language.  I love what they did with the movie.  I find it shocking that people are so quick to jump all over movie adaptations of books for not staying completely 100% true to the canon.  Look at other forms of media that draw from the same source material and take much larger liberties.  Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) has a character in it called Radagast but he isn’t in the book so how dare they use him in the game right? Wrong! Just like the Hobbit movies, it’s a new discrete piece of media.  Having said all that I know that I’m a huge fanboy and they could have made a 10 hr documentary about hobbits farming and I would have happily sat through the whole thing so what do I know.

  9. Jessica says:

    Well Jackson also went into great detail on things that were only briefly mentioned in the book.  And the whole book is from Bilbo’s POV while the movie does not stay that way.  Kind of a useless gripe if you ask me. If you re-read the book as an adult you will notice how much stuff Tolkien glanced over and that’s where Jackson actually expanded on. You know minus the random Elf character he added and all that jazz.