A decade ago, theatrical versions of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" films were all released on DVD in for everyone to enjoy, but if you were a Tolkien megafan, you could wait a couple more months and snag the "Extended Edition", which added, in the minimum case, another thirty minutes of Middle-Earth movie ("The Return of King" extended edition balloons up to four hours and fifteen minutes!). There was even a much under-appreciated extended version of Jackson's 2005 re-imagining of the 1933 classic "King Kong". That being said, it should be no surprise that "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is getting the same treatment for the fourth quarter of 2013.
But one must ask the question, with Tolkien's 310 page children's book already being spread into not two, but three films, how much more extending can one do? Watching "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" in theaters might have bewildered even the most devout Ringers, who, with their appendices left at home, might have become lost with the film's deep Tolkien lingo and references. (Come on, Agmar fell and they put the bad guy in the Fells of Rhuduar and then he went to Dol Guilder and became the Necromancer, pay attention!) Such scenes calling for further reference were usually reserved for extended editions (theatrical cuts being leaner and more accessible to a non-geek audience), but if they're already in the movie, then what's left to add? Will the battles just be longer, or will the new footage delve even deeper into Tolkien's appendices and notes that explain everything (and everything!) through thousands of years of Middle-Earth history?
No matter what the extended version offers in terms of story, all can look forward to the hours-long, in-depth special features that will presumably be there. Both "The Lord of Rings" and "King Kong" came with some of the most insightful and in-depth (and longest) movie-making documentaries around. Jackson might also explain in better detail why he wanted to make three movies, because turning 310 pages into nine hours of movie still seems a little crazy.
Keep your eyes open for the extended edition of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" when it hits stores this fall and check out the theatrical version, out now to rent and buy!