Ian Holm will return as Bilbo Baggins in ‘The Hobbit’

It’s interesting the way “secrets” work these days.

I was under the impression that it was going to be a secret all the way through production and until release that Ian Holm and Elijah Wood appear together in the wrap-around segments of “The Hobbit,” tying the films directly into “Lord Of The Rings.”  Then Elijah’s participation in the film was confirmed a while ago, and this week, no less that Peter Jackson himself confirmed that Ian Holm is in “The Hobbit.”

It seems like there really is no such thing as a surprise anymore.  Earlier today, the post-credits bumper for “Thor” showed up online, presumably duped from one of the Australian screens where the film is already open.  For fans around the world, they can simply spoil that moment for themselves now with one click as opposed to waiting a few more weeks to see it at the end of the film, when it would have far more impact.

The difference here is that Peter Jackson is the one who gave away the spoiler this time, and if he says it’s fine for people to know, then I guess it’s fine to know.  Jackson has been helping to define the way filmmakers can interact with fandom since the year 1999, and while I might have kept the Old Bilbo/Frodo stuff secret, I’m not about to tell Jackson he’s wrong for revealing it in such a casual off-hand manner.

What’s interesting is how it already feels like we’ve learned a lot about “The Hobbit,” and they just started production.  At this point, I wonder about the pace at which we’re going to learn information about the film, and how they’re going to space things out.  You risk over-doing it with constant news about any film, no matter how excited people are about it.  Right now, I have to admit that the near-daily casting news about “The Hunger Games” is on the verge of making me tune the film out entirely until they’ve got their entire cast put together.  Between rumors that immediately get reported as fact, whether they are or not, and the breathless announcements about people I’ve never heard of, it just seems like it’s too much.

That is not to compare the way “The Hobbit” is handing its news and the way “The Hunger Games” is.  These are different points on the same line, though, and the more things evolve, the more the questions about what to preserve as a secret, how to do it, and how much news is too much news seem like important ones for all of us who work in this business to be asking.

“The Hobbit Part 1” opens December 19, 2012, and “The Hobbit Part 2” opens in December of 2013.

“The Hunger Games” arrives in theaters March 23, 2012.