So, will Peter Jackson's upcoming Hobbit trilogy be better than his Lord of the Rings movies? Hard to say, but you know what the new trilogy will be better than? Every Hobbit adaptation up 'till this point. For such a famous, well-liked book, The Hobbit's transition to other media has been pretty dire up until now.
Hit the jump for five The Hobbit adaptations that Peter Jackson can't help but beat...
The Hobbit (1966 short cartoon)
If you're five minutes in and waiting for this cartoon to actually become "animated", well, it never happens. Still, crudely drawn images all the way through folks. Although I do kind of dig the hipstery looking Bilbo in this version.
The Hobbit (1977 TV movie)
Up until now, this is the Hobbit adaptation most people would be familiar with -- which is kind of sad. The Hobbit deserves better than a Rankin-Bass TV special. The art style is weird, the animation is iffy and even at a mere hour-and-a-half it feels like it moves at a snail's pace. I wasn't the most discerning kid (my favourite movie until I was around 14 was All Dogs Go to Heaven) but even I knew this was a pretty junky adaptation.
The Hobbit (1982 text adventure)
Okay, this was actually a pretty good game, but it was still a mostly graphics-less adventure game. Surely Peter Jackson can outdo an early-80s text adventure.
The Hobbit (1985 Russian movie)
Yes, somehow the Soviets got the rights to make a Hobbit movie back in the mid-80s. Actually, I'm pretty certain they didn't get the rights and were just all...
"Copyrights? We don't know what those are. Too busy polishing our ICBMs."
...and just went ahead and made a Hobbit movie starring some fat guy and a glitter-afroed Gandalf. I do think the unibrow on Gollum is a good call though.
The Hobbit (2003 video game)
So, it's 2003, the Lord of the Rings movies are huge, but you can't get the LoTR license. What do you do? You pump out a mediocre Hobbit game instead!
Since this was 2003 and Batman: Arkham Asylum hadn't shown up yet to revive the licensed game scene, The Hobbit is of course a platformer/action thing, that's as bland and cookie-cutter as possible in every facet.
So there you go. Believe it or not, up until now these Hobbit adaptations were the cream of the crop. Unless it comes out that watching movies at 48 frames-per-second somehow gives you herpes, I'm pretty sure Peter Jackson has "best Hobbit adaptation" on lock.