Who should direct "The Hobbit"?

Why not Brad Bird?

He’s the best all-ages storyteller making movies today.

He’s responsible for The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille.

He’s interested in crossover work from animation to live-action.

He turned scenes involving a rat and a kitchen into some of the most dazzling big-screen action this year.

He’s a master of cultivating moments of poignant truth in storytelling.

He’s brave.

And he works closely with other great storytellers like John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, who would be great assets in bringing The Hobbit to the screen.

Peter Jackson… New Line… if you’re listening, consider forming a partnership that would not only expand publicity and distribution for the film and its merchandising… but consider what would ensure that the movie of The Hobbit will remain a favorite for decades to come.

I nominate Brad Bird.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • wintermute42

    It would be hard to go wrong with any of the directors mentioned. Yet after experiencing the LOTR films, my sense is the most creative license any director needs (or should be allowed) is room to adapt, rather than copy, the story. I just don’t have the courage to endure another three-and-a-half hours of crying hobbits just to get a literal, scene-for-scene imaging of the book.

  • petertchattaway

    He’s the best all-ages storyteller making movies today.

    Debatable, of course.

    He’s responsible for The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille.

    All of which were enjoyable to one degree or another, but all of which had their flaws (less so in the case of The Incredibles, though, I think).

    He’s interested in crossover work from animation to live-action.

    “Interested” doesn’t get you very far. Just look at Andrew Adamson, who jumped from the Shrek movies to the not-exactly-all-that-impressive Narnia movies.

    He turned scenes involving a rat and a kitchen into some of the most dazzling big-screen action this year.

    He’s a master of cultivating moments of poignant truth in storytelling.

    He has his moments, definitely.

    He’s brave.

    But is he dangerous? :)

    And he works closely with other great storytellers like John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, who would be great assets in bringing The Hobbit to the screen.

    As films like Cars (which he directed) and Meet the Robinsons (which he influenced quite heavily, after taking the reins at Disney) have shown, Lasseter hasn’t been a “great storyteller” in years, if indeed he ever was one. A good one, perhaps, but not a great one. (The only other Pixar films he directed were A Bug’s Life — easily one of Pixar’s weaker films, though perhaps not as weak as Cars — and the two Toy Story movies, where he shared directing credit and/or the story was developed with outside help from the likes of Joss Whedon.)

    Andrew Stanton, though… Ah yes, Finding Nemo was a charmer. Though he did also co-direct A Bug’s Life. We’ll just have to wait and see how WALL-E turns out.

    FWIW, as I have said elsewhere, I think the Hobbit movies have to be directed by a small-name director or a no-name director, for the same reason Gandalf had to be played by a relatively obscure actor like Ian McKellen (who was not that well known in 1998, outside of those of us who had seen Richard III etc.) rather than a big star like Sean Connery. So all the fanboy speculation and recommendations at this point in time are almost certainly going to be wrong — either wrong as predictions, or wrong for the film.

    I like Greg’s idea: Fran Walsh would be the best bet for guaranteeing continuity with the existing trilogy — though I believe she is so intimately involved with Peter Jackson’s work that if he can’t find the time to do it, then she probably can’t find the time, either.

  • http://quadrivium.wordpress.com/ taj

    Brilliant! Bird would knock it out of the park.

    I can’t help thinking that, regardless of Jackson’s involvement, this effort might end up falling well short of the goal. I read a report on Variety last night hinting at Sam Raimi’s involvement and just wanted to cry.

  • glennmccarty

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Jeff. Brad Bird is perfect for The Hobbit. But I think this might be a good reminder of how few brave, visionary masters of story there are working in Hollywood today. One of the key contributing factors in LOTR (especially Fellowship)’s success was the gumption and vision of Peter Jackson, combined with the artistic license he had. That’s something that he and Brad (along with many of the other Pixar folks) have in common. They are working in creative environs which permit them to be able to fully use their gifts, unencumbered by execs focus-grouping a movie to death until it ends up like a fantasy movie hash, a la The Dark is Rising or The Golden Compass.
    All that to say – Brad Bird is perfect for the role, and here’s hoping someone like him – or even someone who is him – winds up in the Director’s chair.

  • http://hjstaff.wordpress.com/ Greg Wright

    Because the fan base wouldn’t buy it. Hang out at LOTR conventions, and you’ll find that out, I think.

    I’m still hoping for Fran Walsh.

  • sanshirosugata

    Alfonso Cuar√≥n, based on what I remember of A Little Princess and what I saw recently of the Prisoner of Azkaban. He’s an excellent storyteller capable of the lighter touch the story needs (light in the darkness, perhaps). Not that Brad Bird is a bad choice, but he’s unproven in the live-action medium and thus not the first person I thought of.

    I must admit that what excites me more is, given the chance to direct, the possibility that Cuarón might team with Emmanuel Lubezki for the project (which largely explains the second runner up choice).

    1st runner-up: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, though perhaps his version would be too visually rich. The story itself seems to need a much simpler and uncluttered approach.
    2nd runner-up: Terrence Malick, though linear storytelling isn’t his strength, and we wouldn’t see the film this decade (or possibly the next)

  • http://moviegoings.wordpress.com Jared

    Oh, good call. I’ll second that. *petition time*


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