A long lost “animatic” version of The Hobbit created by legendary Tom & Jerry animator Gene Deitch and illustrator Adolf Born has been unearthed online in the last few days.
It’s only 12 minutes long and it takes a few *ahem* “liberties” with the story, but it’s charming and beautiful in a weird sort of way. It was also produced in 30 days, which is kind of amazing.
Apparently, the film was a a financial ploy by Deitch’s producer William L. Snyder—a crazy situation that Deitch explains after the break:
The Tolkien estate had now been offered a fabulous sum for the rights, and [William] Snyder’s rights would expire in one month. They were already rubbing their hands together. But Snyder played his ace: to fulfill just the letter of the contract – to deliver a “full-color film” of THE HOBBIT by June 30th. All he had to do was to order me to destroy my own screenplay – all my previous year’s work, and hoke up a super-condensed scenario on the order of a movie preview, (but still tell the entire basic story from beginning to end), and all within 12 minutes running time – one 35mm reel of film. Cheap. I had to get the artwork done, record voice and music, shoot it, edit it, and get it to a New York projection room on or before June 30th, 1966! I should have told him to shove it, but I was basically his slave at the time. It suddenly became an insane challenge.
You can read the entire amusing story on Deitch’s website.