By Heather Bremer
For The Herald Bulletin
J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical world of Hobbits, Dwarves and Orcs returns to the big screen this weekend. “The Hobbit” opened Friday morning with midnight shows across the country, each theater filled with avid fans dressed as Gandalf, Frodo or Aragorn.
It’s been a long wait for “Lord of the Rings” fans, a whole nine years since Frodo tossed the ring into Mount Doom in “The Return of the King.” Their excitement to finally see Peter Jackson’s take on the Tolkien prequel should dominate the holiday box office. “The Return of the King” opened to the tune of $72 million, and its $377 million run brought the franchise’s box office total to more than $1 billion domestically and $2.9 billion worldwide.
The success of the franchise both financially and critically makes us long to see other great pieces of fiction and fantasy receive proper treatment in a theatrical release. Here are just a few books that deserve the Peter Jackson treatment (or something as equally grand):
Clive Cussler’s “The Mediterranean Caper”: The first of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels, “Caper” is the perfect entry point into Pitt’s world of adventure and heroism. Pitt, a marine engineer with the U.S. National Underwater and Marine Agency, often finds himself in situations requiring that he save the world from global catastrophe. At 6-foot-3 with rugged features, wavy black hair, piercing green eyes and a military background, Pitt is more than suited for the job. With 20-plus novels to work with, it could be a long-lived and popular franchise for an actor such as Gerard Butler despite two previous failed attempts to get it off the ground. The series deserves another try.
Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”: What if all the gods of ancient religions and mythology were real and were hanging out on Earth like regular people, kept alive and powerful by our belief in them? What if modern society and its gods — technology, the Internet — threatened to destroy them? Gaiman’s brilliant novel explores such deep questions in the darkly funny way that sets his works apart. The novel is set to be adapted into a series for HBO by Playtone, Tom Hanks’ production company. This may better serve the novel’s subplots but one envisions the final battle on a bigger screen.
Dean Koontz’s “Lightning”: A dream project with Nazis, time travel and one of the greatest love stories ever written. Cast Thomas Jane as Stefan and Stana Katic as Laura, and get Christopher Nolan to direct. I’d never need to see another movie again.
Christopher Moore’s “The Stupidest Angel”: A Christmas story with a twist only the twisted mind of Moore can concoct. There’s a dead Santa, pot-growing sheriff, the Warrior Babe of the Outland, zombies bent on a Christmas Eve meal of brains and an archangel who isn’t the brightest star in heaven. It would take a deft hand with absurd comedy, such as Wes Anderson, to pull it off but it could certainly be a holiday hit.
Heather Bremer, a former Herald Bulletin reporter/designer, writes a weekly column on movies, television and pop culture. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.