At first it seemed like a normal, business-related news story about Warner Brothers putting up the complete $500 million budget for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, retaining theatrical and home video distribution rights while co-producer MGM retains television distribution rights. And then Deadline added a small update to the story stating that actors “Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis and possibly Elijah Wood” were in discussions to reprise their Lord Of The Rings roles for the two-part film.
Uh, Elijah Wood?
While everyone familiar with author J R R Tolkien’s works knows that McKellen’s Gandalf and Sirkis’s Gollum play major roles in The Hobbit, but Wood’s Frodo Baggins doesn’t appear. (If you aren’t familiar with Tolkien’s books, trust me on this. I just finished re-reading The Hobbit last week.)
The reason that Frodo doesn’t appear in The Hobbit is that he wasn’t born yet! In the beginning of The Lord Of The Rings, Frodo is celebrating his 33 birthday on the same day that his uncle Bilbo is celebrating his 111th birthday. Quick math tells us that Bilbo was therefore 78 when Frodo was born. But Bilbo was only in his 50s when he partook of the adventures chronicled in The Hobbit, decades before Frodo was born.
So how can Frodo be in The Hobbit? Well, as we’ve seen in The Lord Of The Rings, Peter Jackson has taken some liberties with the source material before in the process of translating the books to the silver screen. In the books, seventeen years pass between Bilbo’s 111th birthday party and his departure from the Shire and when Frodo departs on his quest to destroy the One Ring, while in the films it is only a matter of hours between the two.
But even a compaction of the timeline of The Hobbit would not explain how Frodo could be around for the action of the story, unless he shows up right at the end of the second film in some of the possible “bridging” scenes that Jackson has talked about.