Alidar Jarok wrote:
Just stepping back to the big picture for a second:
Back when I saw Fellowship of the Ring, I watched it with someone who had never read the books. He expressed surprise that they killed of Gandalf so early when it would have made sense to do it in the second movie after everyone had become truly acquainted with him. Not wanting to spoil the fact that he comes back, I pointed out that the books start with the Hobbit, so it really was the second movie.
I'm wondering if the movies are built so you can watch the Hobbit first. On the one hand, the basic narrative story is probably capable of supporting a viewing of the Hobbit first. On the other hand, they seem to be using a framing story which might make it more difficult. I wonder if they're approaching this to make the Hobbit accessible if you watch it first or with the assumption that you'll watch "An Unexpected Journey" fourth.
We know that the framing story for An Unexpected Journey is inexplicably linked to and with The Fellowship of the Ring, which means that there are two logical places within that film and story where said framing story could take place: just prior to the 'Concerning Hobbits' prologue (which would make the Extended Cut of TFotR the 'definitive' version of the story) or after Bilbo and Frodo's reunion at Rivendell.
Although either placement for the framing story is logical, I believe that there were images released months ago which pointed directly at the former (with Elijah Wood and Ian Holm dressed in the costumes they are wearing at the beginning of Fellowship).
The question of whether or not it will be possible to view the Hobbit trilogy first will, I believe, ultimately be answered by exactly how Peter edits the framing story portion of An Unexpected Journey, although, if I had to make a guess right now, I would put money on the audience in fact being able to view the films chronologically, even if that isn't the direct intent. IOW, I don't think Peter will edit the framing story in a way that intentionally makes it impossible for the Hobbit trilogy to be viewed prior to the LotR Trilogy.