Adaptations of The Hobbit

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The first authorized adaptation of The Hobbit was a stage production by St. Margaret's School, Edinburgh in March 1953.[1] Subsequently, The Hobbit has been adapted for a variety of media including stage, screen, radio, board games and video games.

Several of these adaptations have received critical recognition of their own, including a video game that won the Golden Joystick Award, a scenario of a war game that won an Origins Award, and an animated picture nominated for a Hugo Award.


The following is a list of dramatizations of The Hobbit.

Film and television[edit]

  • The 1966 short animated film "The Hobbit!" was the first ever film production of The Hobbit. It was directed by Gene Deitch in Czechoslovakia. American film producer William L. Snyder obtained the rights to the novel from the Tolkien estate very cheaply while it was still largely unknown, with the proviso that he produce a "full-colour film" by 30 June 1966, and immediately set about producing a feature length film, with screenplay by Deitch. The project fell through, but after the explosion in the novel's popularity, Snyder realized that his contract had not required the film to be of any length: he therefore instructed Deitch to create a 12-minute film based on his earlier work so that he could retain his rights. He later sold the rights for around $100,000 (not adjusted for inflation).[2][3][4] The final project has very little to do with the source material.
  • The Hobbit, an animated version of the story produced by Rankin/Bass, debuted as a television movie in the United States in 1977. Romeo Muller won a Peabody Award for the teleplay. The film was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, but lost to Star Wars.[5]
  • The BBC children's television series Jackanory presented an adaptation of The Hobbit in 1979.[6] Unusually for the programme, the adaptation was narrated by several people. According to one of the narrators David Wood, the release of the production on video has been repeatedly stopped by the Tolkien Estate.[7]
  • A Soviet 1985 television play Сказочное путешествие мистера Бильбо Беггинса Хоббита ("The Fantastic Journey of the Hobbit Mr. Bilbo Baggins") aired on the Leningrad TV Channel.
  • A live-action film version was announced on 18 December 2007, to be co-produced by MGM and New Line Cinema, and produced by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.[8] Guillermo Del Toro was originally signed on to direct both parts but withdrew from the project in May 2010, leaving Jackson as director.[9] The narrative of the film is to be expanded and split over two parts. It was announced on 22 October 2010, after months of speculation, that Martin Freeman will be playing Bilbo Baggins.[10] The casting had been uncertain due to the unexpected success of the summer BBC adaptation of Sherlock and Freeman's subsequent filming commitments for the second series. Filming began on 21 March 2011.[11] The adaptation includes a new character that did not appear in the original book, Tauriel, who is the head of the Elven guard, and played by Evangeline Lilly.[12] On 30 July 2012, Jackson revealed that there would be a third Hobbit film due to there being so much unused material from Tolkien's novel and appendices.[13] The third and final film in the Hobbit series was released in December 2014.

The Finnish live action television miniseries Hobitit, from 1993, is an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings rather than The Hobbit (although it shows a flashback to Bilbo's encounter with Gollum). The name, literally "The Hobbits", reflects the fact that it follows only the storyline of Frodo and Sam (large battles and other events were clearly beyond the means of this relatively simple TV series).



  • Nicol Williamson played over 20 different characters, each with a unique voice, in an adaptation directed by Harely Usill. Music by R.J. Stewart .This performance was released on four LP records in 1974 by Argo Records.
    Cover of the cassette edition of Nicol Williamson's dramatization of The Hobbit featuring the illustration Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raftelves by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The American radio theatre company The Mind's Eye produced an audio adaptation of The Hobbit which was released on six one-hour audio cassettes in 1979.[14]
  • Rob Inglis performed the only unabridged audiobook edition of The Hobbit, for Recorded Books in 1991.[19] It contains original music composed by Inglis and music written by Tolkien himself, and Claudia Howard of Recorded Books.[20]

Stage productions and musicals[edit]

  • A musical production, The Hobbit, was staged in 1967 at New College School in Oxford. It was scripted by Humphrey Carpenter, set to music by Paul Drayton and performed by members of the New College School choir. Among the cast were Simon Halsey and Martin Pickard. The audience included a young Howard Goodall and, on the last night, Tolkien himself.[21]
  • In 1968, J. R. R. Tolkien authorized Patricia Gray's adaptation for the stage. This dramatization makes changes to the original plot, removing sections and giving Thorin the role of dragon-slayer, amongst other deviations.[22] Many productions of this version have been performed up to the present day.
  • In 1972, The Hobbit was adapted by playwright Ruth Perry into "The Hobbit: a Musical", with score and lyrics by Jay Allan Friedman and David Rogers respectively. This musical is distributed by The Dramatic Publishing Company.[23][24]
  • Rob Inglis adapted and performed a one-man theatre play of The Hobbit.[25] This performance led to him being asked to record the unabridged audio-book for The Lord of the Rings in 1990. A year later, he read the unabridged version of The Hobbit.[20]
  • The Manitoba Theatre for Young People commissioned Kim Selody to adapt The Hobbit. His version premiered there in 1999. The play is only licensed to be performed in Canada.[26] Various productions have been reviewed as being "whimsical, wild and not too scary"[27] and "not really that exciting".[28]
  • Christine Anketell produced a puppetry version that toured Australia in 1997 and again in 2000. The production featured 82 stringless Bunraku-style puppets that took about 6,000 hours to make. 11 puppeteers manipulated the puppets with Gandalf played by an actor in full costume.[29]

Games and toys[edit]

Board, war and role-playing games[edit]

The Hobbit has been the subject of several board games. Below are examples of some of the published games.

  • In the 1970's, TSR, Inc. released two editions of a war game based on The Battle of Five Armies, designed by Larry Smith, using cardboard tokens and a map of the area around the Lonely Mountain as the setting. The game was criticized for a lack of clarity in the rules, and praised for evoking the onslaught of the Warg and goblin army.[30]
  • Iron Crown Enterprises has produced several games based on The Hobbit:
    • Coleman Charlon designed The Lonely Mountain (released in 1985),[31] which features groups of adventurers entering Smaug's Lair to capture his treasure before he awakens.
    • Also in 1985, Iron Crown Enterprises released its version of The Battle of Five Armies,[31] developed by Richard H. Britton, Coleman Charlton, and John Crowell, again taking the theme of a war game and using card counters and a paper map.
    • The Hobbit Adventure Boardgame [sic] was the last game from Iron Crown based directly on The Hobbit. They continued to publish the Middle-earth Role Playing Game, a game licensed on both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings properties, combining elements from both works.[32]
  • Middle-earth Strategic Gaming (formerly Middle-earth Play-by-Mail), which has won several Origin Awards, uses the Battle of Five Armies as an introductory scenario to the full game and includes characters and armies from the book.[33]
  • In 2005, Games Workshop released a Battle of Five Armies tabletop wargame, designed by Rick Priestley using highly detailed 10-millimetre figures sculpted by Mark Harrison, based on Games Workshop's Warmaster rules and designed to be played in a small space suitable for the home gamer.[34][35] Games Workshop also is expanding its Lord of the Rings: The Strategy Battle Game in the form of The Hobbit: The Strategy Battle Game.
  • In 2011, British game publisher Cubicle 7 released The One Ring - Adventures over the Edge of the Wild, a role-playing game set several years after the events of The Hobbit. Supplements so far include Tales from Wilderland and The Loremaster's Screen and Lake-town, with others scheduled for release in 2013.[36]

Toys and collectibles[edit]

  • Lego has released a number of brick sets and minifigures titled Lego The Hobbit as part of Jackson's Hobbit film series franchise.
  • In June 2012, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Weta Workshop announced they would offer a "range of authentic prop replicas, collectibles and merchandise based on the upcoming films" in October 2012.[37]

Video games[edit]

Several computer and video games, both licensed and unlicensed, have been based on the story.

Graphic media and literature[edit]

Graphic media[edit]

  • Fleetway Publications published a fifteen-part illustrated, abridged version of The Hobbit in Princess and Girl magazine in the United Kingdom. The story was published on a weekly basis between 10 October 1964 and 16 January 1965, with each instalment accompanied by five or six illustrations by Ferguson Dewar.[44]
Gollum in The Hobbit comic adaptation (1989). Art by David Wenzel.


  • The Soddit or Let's Cash in Again is a 2003 parody written by Adam ["A.R.R.R."] Roberts. The book consists of primarily slapstick-style jokes, with characters names slightly modified from the original (for example, Bingo as opposed to Bilbo) and a slightly altered storyline. As the book progresses, the story departs further and further from the original storyline that it parodies.[47]


  • Leonard Nimoy sang a jaunty ditty about The Hobbit titled "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins". The recording originally appeared on the album The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, released in 1968. A music video accompanied it, featuring sand dunes and dancing girls.[48]
  • Paul Corfield Godfrey, who has written a large amount of music based on Tolkien with the permission of the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins Publishers, wrote a full-length opera on The Hobbit during the years 1971-76. The work divides into two parts entitled "Over Hill and Under Hill" and "Fire and Water", but the score of the second part only survives in fragments. Two orchestral suites were extracted from the work; the first of these was performed in London in 1971.[citation needed]
  • German power metal band Blind Guardian have recorded many songs which contain either tributes or references to the works of Tolkien. On their 1992 album, Somewhere Far Beyond, the song "The Bard's Song - The Hobbit" tells part of the story of The Hobbit.[citation needed]
  • In 2001, Marjo Kuusela produced the ballet Hobitti (The Hobbit in Finnish) with music by Aulis Sallinen for the Finnish National Opera.[49]
  • Dean Burry was commissioned by the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus to write an operatic version of the story for piano and choir to be performed in 2004.[50] The performance rights were subsequently locked up by Tolkien Enterprises before being released in 2006. The Sarasota Youth Opera of the Sarasota Opera then requested full orchestration. With that and some revisions by the composer, the second version premiered on 9 and 10 May 2008 in the United States and was conducted by Lance Inouye.[51]


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