Leaked Jackson plan sparks concern among Armitage fangirls, doctors
Just one day after the broadcast of the second official trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a newly revealed document sheds a sinister light on the aims of New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson.
RAeuters has obtained a document that purports to be a transcript of summer 2012 conversations at Warner Bros. regarding the proposed expansion of the studio project to film the 1937 J.R.R. Tolkien novel from two to three to 310 feature-length films. During the conversation, a Warner Bros. executive identified in the document as Max Profitt expresses skepticism about the profitability of a third film, noting that Tolkien fans have historically acquiesced in the milking of their affections for profit, but that a third film would need to attract broader viewership in order to break even, let alone generate the targeted profits. Below are excerpts from the transcript.
[Warner Bros. executive Max Profitt]: “We know you’ve added a female character to the film to increase its relatability, but we aren’t sure that’s enough.”
Peter Jackson: “Forget Tauriel. I’m sure the fans will love her, but the real key to profitability in this case is Richard Armitage. He’s quite plainly addictive. I can’t stop watching him!”
[MP]: “We know that you amputated a foot of his body for this role in order to make his effect more impactful, but we are still not convinced that Armitage will have the same effect on every viewer.”
PJ: “But the rushes show it works — he packs all that 6’2″ Armitage power and authority into the smaller body of a dwarf, and the result is frankly explosive. But with the help of WETA Worship, I’m additionally using RAECT to make sure that the delivery of Armitage to viewers of this film is as intense but plausibly natural as anything any of them has ever seen.”
[MP]: “What is RAECT?”
PJ: “It’s a new tool under development by WETA. I can’t say much because we’re applying for several patents.”
[MP]: “What does it do?”
PJ: “RAECT will allow me to reach viewers in instants who don’t know him yet and immediately glue their eyes to the screen. Once the movie ends, RAECT has a secondary effect: making viewers wish to see nothing but Armitage until they can come back to the screen, look at a Hobbit tie-in book, or some merchandise.”
[MP]: “How do you know it will work?”
PJ: “We’ve already seen good results in our test audience, which has shown itself highly susceptible to RAECT.”
[MP]: “Who’s in the test audience?”
PJ: “Mostly Richard Armitage’s fangirls.”
[MP]: “But they already love him.”
PJ: “You’ll see how it works after the second trailer airs. It relies heavily on RAECT. But based on what I already know, I’m not going to stop using RAECT until every single viewer of the films is mesmerized. By that time, of course, every Armitage fangirl on the planet — even the ones who are leery of Tolkien or The Hobbit — will be hopelessly, irretrievably hooked and unable to exist without regular infusions of Hobbit film and merchandise to keep the addiction under control.”
[MP]: “Are you sure?”
PJ: “I won’t unplug RAECT until it happens!”
Peter Jackson marketing strategy: A shortened Richard Armitage packs more power per cubic inch. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Ken Stott as Balin (?) in a publicity still for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The transcript appeared this morning on HobbitLeaks, the virtual brainchild of Aporia Sedevacantes, a recluse long suspected of resenting Jackson’s take on the LOTR films. Attempts by Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema to shut down HobbitLeaks, whose server is housed on Sedevacantes’ private island in the Pacific Ocean, have proved similarly unsuccessful. Despite injunctions and civil criminal charges filed in several nations over previous information leaks and charges made on the site that Jackson has never actually read The Silmarillion, Sedevacantes has refused to shut down the server. While Sedevacantes refused comment for this article, citing a September 2012 application for asylum in San Marino via the microstate’s Antananarivo embassy, she posted a statement on her server reaffirming the legitimacy and accuracy of the transcript and all of the materials on HobbitLeaks.
The second trailer was broadcast on the morning of September 19th in the United States to general excitement and immediate acclaim. Almost simultaneously, however, emergency rooms and primary care centers around the globe were overwhelmed with women showing a variety of apparently unrelated symptoms: hyperextended or dislocated jaws, inability to close the eyes or speak words other than the name “Thorin,” distended and dilated pupils, paralysis, unrestrained smiling or giggling, sustained hyperventilation, and behaviors resembling alcohol intoxication. The stream intensified throughout the day, leading to longer than normal waits for care and long periods spent on hold while hospital staff consulted with insurers over coverage amounts. While symptoms varied from patient to patient, all had been exposed to the second trailer, some of them as many as five dozen times.
Do the wide open eyes prevent you from closing yours or even looking away? You may be responding to RAECT. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in a cap from the second trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
In the frantic search for answers in the face of a flood of cases, helpless doctors and overworked paramedics placed patients in artificial comas, warehoused them in hastily constructed tent wards in hospital parking lots, and expressed the hope that the effect of the trailer would simply gradually wear off. City officials urged victims’ families to confiscate their computers and go through their desks and rooms to eliminate any printouts or graphics. A spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta urged moviegoers not to overreact, but nonetheless cautioned, “Until we know more, all digital files of this trailer and any derivative images should be treated as highly dangerous, either as a vector for disease or a delivery mechanism for an unknown but highly potent controlled substance.” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency declined to comment about rumors of a new drug until they could verify the effects of the trailer, but off the record, an official of the administration reported that the DEA was already conducting tests after a third of the Washington DC work force at the U.S. Department of State had to be delivered by helicopter to Bethesda Naval Hospital in short order after 10 a.m. ET. on Wednesday.
Medical professionals and commentators in receipt of the transcript speculated that RAECT could stand for Richard Armitage Electroconvulsive Therapy. “ECT is a treatment for depression that was discredited in the 1960s, but which has regained popularity in recent years for treatment of the most difficult cases,” said one doctor. “It does tend to immobilize patients temporarily. However, it’s hard to see how Jackson could be using a computer screen to deliver the necessary voltages of electricity to viewers’ brains, or how this would work in a theater unless the spectators were strapped in and attached to electrodes. I suppose that some physicians might fear that under certain conditions, the 48 fps image rate that Jackson is using to make the film could trigger an episode of photosensitive epilepsy, but again, that hardly seems a technique that could be exploited for profit.” The doctor noted that cinemas had attempted to use subliminal techniques in concessions advertising in the twentieth century with little apparent success before excusing himself, rubbing his hands and citing pressing business at his computer.
On Thursday morning, at a press conference called in response to the situation, a publicist for Warner Bros. denied ever employing anyone named Max Profitt. “There is no such thing as RAECT. Warner Bros. has never heard of any such tool,” the representative declared in response to specific questions. “We have not, nor will we ever, use any technology — beyond the talents of our artists and the sublime quality of our product — to attract viewers to our films.”
Friend of fans, or malevolent purveyor of dangerously addictive RAECT? Peter Jackson in vlog #2 for The Hobbit. Source: Heirs of Durin
And in typically sunny fashion, Peter Jackson, interviewed at the Wellington set of The Hobbit in a brief break from the onerous responsibility of naming his new 60 fps digital cameras, said, “I love fans. I want to spend all my time with fans. I would never do anything to hurt a fan!”
But attorneys consulted by RAeuters noted that if the transcript is shown to be authentic, Jackson and Warner Bros. have exposed themselves to huge liability. “This could be as big as the assault on Big Tobacco,” one litigator noted, “although Jackson is only supposed to be worth about $450 million. Even so, some attorney will make money on this one.” Industry insiders noted further that insurers of theaters were likely to raise rates ahead of the December premiere, and predicted that ticket prices would rise as well, to cover the costs of having a paramedic or ambulance stationed outside every cinema to offer first aid to newly-afflicted fans.
Whether Armitage himself could be the object of litigation was unclear, as legal commentators noted that it was neither clear that he had any ability to control his own effect on fans, nor that he’d been aware of Jackson’s plans. The non-movie star himself, closeted with a group of English teachers from southeastern Oklahoman imported to Michigan to assist him with his accent for his current role in Black Sky, was unfortunately unavailable for comment.
The likelihood that legal action might be taken increased this afternoon after a report appeared on a blog written in Wellington. In it, the author, Harry Mann, who identified himself as an employee of WETA, revealed that RAECT actually stands for “Richard Armitage Enhancing and Concentrating Technology.” In a long entry, Mann explained how RAECT takes the effect of Armitage’s eyes, face, and gestures and directs them in an initial barrage at the neo-cortex, completely disabling everything it controls (conscious reasoning, language) except the sensory perceptive centers in one to three bursts. “Once that’s been achieved,” the author claimed, “the brain becomes completely dependent on its limbic system and thus highly emotional.” The blog post stressed that this effect is not solely visual, although some viewers may experience it that way initially — and the frequent broadcast of pictures of wide-eyed Thorin is intended to keep the viewer concentrating and unable to resist RAECT. “You’re caught like a deer in the headlights,” the author went on to note, “and then RAECT uses The Voice to generate repeated surges of dopamine. Other mechanisms are involved,” the post continued, “which then direct you to return to the theater and buy merchandise,” but the main effect seems to be a direct assault on the reasoning parts of the brain that leave its perceptual and emotional centers completely defenseless. In particular, Mann noted, RAECT works differently from most drugs in that it becomes more, rather than less, effective the longer one is exposed to it.
The blog, hosted by a free blogging service, had been deleted by the evening in a preliminary response to an injunction.
Contacted for comment, a press representative for WETA Workshop stated that no one named Harry Mann had ever worked for WETA. On the defensive, the rep went on to claim that “only a dyslexic would come up with a fake acronym like that and think anyone would believe him.” He also dismissed the idea of RAECT as “complete and utter nonsense, like most of what you read on blogs.”
Thorin, I want you now. Now. NOT in December.
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in the second trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
[This piece was inspired by my own response, and by reactions I was reading yesterday and today all over the place, so if you think you recognize yourself here, you're probably right. Except if you're Peter Jackson -- in which case, Mr. Jackson, your trailer is unbelievably addictive and this was an attempt to come to terms with that with humor. I also have some more slightly more serious musings, but I'll save them for tomorrow if I'm in the mood.]