I am currently about two-thirds of the way through “The Hobbit”. Having watched the movies first (which is always a mistake, I know), I can’t help but notice how different the movies and the book are. And honestly, it’s not hard to see why. The Hobbit was written before LOTR, but the LOTR films were made before The Hobbit films.
Therefore, while The Lord of the Rings book leads on from The Hobbit novel, the fact that the LOTR was adapted into film first means the Hobbit films had to fit into the LOTR film universe and franchise that already existed. This could explain why The Hobbit was made into three 3 hour long films, to mirror the LOTR films. However while The Hobbit films might be satisfying prequels to someone who has only watched the LOTR movies and not read any of the books, as someone who has read most of the Hobbit and all of LOTR, I cannot see how they can justify going so far off the original story.
The Hobbit films may as well be a different story, as they go so far from the original. A prime example of this is the addition of the character Tauriel. Did we really need that love triangle? I don’t think so.
At the end of the day, the LOTR and the Hobbit are novels which will never be forgotten. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 30 years children will be studying them at school. Therefore I believe that the Hobbit deserved to be recognized as a story independent of the LOTR franchise and made into a 2 hour or so long movie without adding pointless characters and forcing it to fit perfectly with the LOTR film franchise. Pointless love triangles take away from a classic story. You wouldn’t add an extra love interest to something like Jane Eyre, or Pride and Prejudice when making it into a movie, so why do it with the works of Tolkien? I think it was quite disrespectful to the original author, as if Tolkien was still alive I don’t think he would be very happy about it at all.