Hollywood has often looked to the literary world for its source material. When it comes to J.R.R. Tolkien's riveting tale of fantasy and adventure The Hobbit, one filmmaker was anxious to bring the story to the big screen. Illustrator, animator and director Gene Deitch teamed up with producer William L. Snyder for the 1966 animated short The Hobbit!.
Snyder purchased rights to the saga directly from the Tolkien estate before the novel's popularity was at an all-time high. His contract obligated him to a full-color film, which he started planning as a feature-length production. The project tanked, but when the masses caught on to The Hobbit, Snyder took advantage of its marketability with a new movie.
Since his contract never stated the length of the picture, he had Deitch make a 12-minute short. Czech illustrator Adolf Born was commissioned to create the colorful, folk-art animations, giving The Hobbit a unique Eastern European vibe. The short was completed in less than a month and fulfilled Snyder's licensing contract with the Tolkien estate. Amusingly enough, the movie was only screened one time in a New York theater — on June 30, 1966, which is the day the contract expired.
[Spotted via Open Culture]
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