Naturally this post involves lots of SPOILERS. No holds barred, as they say. So, if you’re avoiding movie spoilers … I dunno, go read this amusing article about Ringwraiths.
As much as possible we’re looking factual, sourced reports from the original sources. If you have an addition, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a post in the comment thread below. Please note the posting guidelines for this particular thread before you comment.
UPDATE at 12/7/2014: I’ve just completed another big update today. You’ll note that directly below there is now a list of all the individual items with anchor links. It might help with navigation because this page is becoming very long! Much kudos to you eagle-eyed ringers who keep finding extra stuff — it would be much less comprehensive without your help. You all rock.
The official synopsis
From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.
Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo’s frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.
As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.
The returning cast
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, with Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, and Orlando Bloom.
The film also stars, in alphabetical order, John Bell, Manu Bennett, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Billy Connolly, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Mikael Persbrandt and Aidan Turner.
Legolas chats with Bard
We really have no context for this image right now, alas.
The deathbed words of Thorin Oakenshield
Thorin’s death scene has been filmed — Richard Armitage has alluded to the scene on a few occasions, including during this interview with TORn:
GD: With all that you bring to Thorin, people — especially those who don’t know what’s coming — will be devastated in Film 3!
RA: If they haven’t read the book… I know. [with gleeful excitement] Oh it’s so good. I can’t even begin to tell you — it’s so good… The way that’s structured — I know we’re not supposed to talk about it, but it’s… at every level it surpassed my expectation.
Armitage revealed even more in a letter (which TORn has seen) he sent mid-last-year to cancer survivor Samantha (aka Elvenbutterflies) who visited the set of The Hobbit as a special Make-A-Wish experience.
I wanted Thorin to be at peace and full of love when he died, the scene was about asking for Bilbo’s forgiveness, the final line he spoke was “If more people valued home above gold the world would be a merrier place.”
What’s Saruman up to?
Chris Lee confirmed in his 2013 Christmas video that his role in the final Hobbit film is his most substantial of the trilogy.
The third and final film … which will come out in December next year … there’s a lot of me in it. A lot.
There’s a tremendous amount of fighting, sword play, understanding, sympathy, kindness towards Galadriel, towards Gandalf. I’m not saying anymore because that would give the story away. But it’s the third film in which I have the most to do.
Source: Christopher Lee’s Christmas video message to his fans.
Dain Ironfoot character and appearance, plus the war-pigs
The inimitable Billy Connolly — cast as Dain Ironfoot — is never backward in coming forward, and has already said some fascinating things about his role as the ruler of the Iron Hills and future King of Erebor. Let’s list them:
I have a war to fight. Elves to kill. Orcs to maim.
They’re basically broadening me, making me wider. But let me say, this guy will terrify the life out of you. I have a Mohawk and tattoos on my head. You’ve got to see it.
Source: Yahoo Australia.
But you don’t feel like a little guy because you are doing big things like killing people and stuff. And you are wearing all that armour and make-up and everything. It was great fun. I arrive riding a wild pig.
I’m covered in armour. It’s like wearing a Volkswagon.
Source: Interview with 3News.co.nz.
I hate them all. Kill them all, the bastards. Especially elves. Get right in among the elves, but they’re the most beautiful of them all. Blonde hair, braided and they’re all slimmy and extremely tall. And we’re very broad and low and f****n ‘Have that’ with our axes and they’ve got their skinny swords and all that.
Source: Interview with NZHerald.
More recently at DenverCon Sylvester McCoy also alluded to Dain’s size: “Dain Ironfoot is the largest dwarf you’ve ever seen. They made that already large man twice as large.”
Additionally, the illustration below could give us an idea of what Dain’s war-pigs might look like, depending on whether Kabam has inside access to official production artwork. We just don’t know for sure right now, but Connolly’s comments lend support.
Source: Kabam artwork for The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age and Kingdoms of Middle-earth video games.
Ringer Sulleman notes that in Production Video #14, while Jackson is discussing the music for The Desolation of Smaug, we see a short sequence of an armoured dwarf (most likely Iron Hill dwarves since the helmet is different than the Erebor dwarves), and it appears that the actor is mimicking a riding action.
Source: Production Blog #14 @ 2 mins 26 secs.
Benedict Cumberbatch, the Necromancer and the “Five Legions War”
Way back in early 2012, Benedict Cumberbatch first chatted to Empire about his new roles in The Hobbit.
“I’m playing Smaug through motion-capture and voicing the Necromancer, which is a character in the Five Legions War or something which I’m meant to understand. He’s not actually in the original Hobbit. It’s something [Peter Jackson]’s taken from Lord Of The Rings that he wants to put in there.”
Source: Interview with Empire.
Smaug the Lake-town killing machine
Not entirely unexpected, but nice to have some confirmation via WETA Digital Animation Supervisor Dave Clayton.
Source: Weta Digital interview with IGN.
Gandalf receives Radagast’s staff
A confirmation of a long-standing fan theory by WETA staff at Denver Comic Con via Ringer Alamoknight.
I spent a lot of time at the Weta booth. So I thought I would ask them if they would be producing another staff for Gandalf since his was destroyed by Sauron in the second film. They told me a theory by some fans was correct. They staff that Gandalf has in Moria is in fact Radagast’s staff. They told me that Gandalf will get Radagast’s staff at some point during the third Hobbit movie.
The photo of Gandalf riding Big Nick across the Ruapehu desert from the 2012 13-minute Hobbit special seems to confirm this. Ringer Alamoknight also adds the following clarification:
So after purchasing Radagast’s staff from the Weta Booth at Denver Comic Con, among the people at the Weta booth at DCC was Peter Lyons, master weaponsmith from the movies. Once I realized who he was I began talking to Peter about the staff. During the conversation I asked him if Weta would be producing a new staff for Gandalf since his is destroyed in DOS. At this point in the conversation he tells me something to this effect:
“Well this is some spoilerish info but at some point during movie three Gandalf will get Radagast’s staff”. He also pointed out that some of the branches probably became worn after the third movie and that is why it looks slightly different when Gandalf is in Moria. He also told me that if they did produce a new staff for Gandalf it would essentially be Radagast’s except the crystal wouldn’t be there, he said maybe they would add Gandalf’s pipe or something. At that point he showed me where in Radagast’s staff that Gandalf’s pipe would go. It’s already built in!
Now this revelation does not clear up the fact that the staff that Gandalf has at the beginning of the Fellowship is also different. When I was talking to Peter Lyons about Weta producing a new staff, I thought he would tell me about that one (the one at the beginning of Fellowship). The info about Radagast’s staff was very happy and unexpected bonus!
Source: Ringer alamoknight.
Ringer Valdis Nelijus points to visual counter-evidence from Production Diary #11 at 8 mins and 50 secs. Gandalf is in a snowy scene (possibly Dale), and he is obviously carrying his old, original staff.
Additionally, Ringer Vinícius Vyller supplies the following comparison images of Gandalf’s staff in The Fellowship of the Ring, versus Radagast’s staff. I’m presenting them here without comment, although I will draw attention to Peter Lyon’s words as reported by Alamoknight some of the branches probably became worn after the third movie and that is why it looks slightly different when Gandalf is in Moria. I think this one still has a fair way to run.
Bard’s rooftop battle with Smaug
Our first glimpse of Bard’s rooftop battle with Smaug came via the San Diego Comic-Con showreel that Peter Jackson personally unveiled in July 2012. Reaction from our staffers:
Deej: I loved seeing him jump from the burning rooftops after Smaug; he reminded me a little of Will Turner, hence the high hotness level. 😀
Garfeimao: It was great to finally see Luke in costume, and then up on the rooftop he went, in a harness, running and jumping from rooftop to rooftop, all while it was burning. Seems they had him doing the dragon-fighting sequence on his very first day of filming, talk about trial by fire.
Source: TORn staff react to Comic-Con Hobbit showreel.
Footage from previously published Vlogs
We know that some stuff relating to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has been revealed in the 13 Vlogs published to date. Luckily for us, Ringer MaxeBaumannFilms2013 has collated much of this into a single handy reel.
Just a few of the highlights include:
- Leaf-armoured Mirkwood elves forming a protective wall.
- Legolas riding somewhere with Tauriel.
- Lake-town afire while Bard scurries through the streets and scrambles over rooftops with a bow in hand.
- Gandalf and Bilbo with elves in Dale and dialogue spoken to McKellen by Peter Jackson “[garbled]…they’re sweeping in from the north!”.
- Gandalf, Thranduil and other elves fighting heavily armoured figures in Dale that look like the orcs we saw leaving Dol Guldur during DOS.
- Legolas and Tauriel meeting with Gandalf in Dale.
- Bain (son of Bard) fighting with sword and shield.
- An unarmed Alfrid in the wilderness somewhere, flanked by fellow Lake-towners who are armed with swords and spears.
- Thorin in a deathgrip with someone, possibly/probably Azog.
Bilbo “becomes very brave in the last battle”
Bilbo to play an expanded role in the Battle of the Five Armies? Information sourced from the original character summary. Credit to Ringer Otaku-sempai for the reminder of this old report.
…although… he doesn’t have huge courage he does become, particularly in the last battle, very brave.
Source: TORn spy report.
Bilbo’s return to Bag End and the auction
Credit to Ringer James for reminding us of this one that Quint from AICN revealed after his set visit in 2011. We also have some images from Production Diary #6 that show Bag End’s furniture spread around The Hill. Thanks to Ringer Sulleman for sending us those.
Returning to Hobbiton is a little more melancholy, of course. The quest is done, friends have died and Bilbo’s exhausted, not to mention a bit shell-shocked. And he finally gets home to find all his shit’s on the lawn! How’s that for a welcome back?
Having been gone for 13 months Bilbo was presumed dead and there’s an auction for his possessions, which the Sackville-Bagginses are very happy about.
I talked briefly with Martin about this section and he mentioned that he wanted to play it a bit harder than Peter was probably expecting. He’s not happy to see people making off with his possessions and after a hard journey he’s not the same laid back hobbit as the one who left. That was Freeman’s thought, anyway, and from what I could see being filmed Jackson agreed that when he stands up for himself it should be done with more force than you’d expect.
The man’s not screaming and knocking fools out, but he’s noticeably stronger and more confident than he was before.
Additionally, Ringer Bow&Helm did some digging through the Extended Edition commentaries for An Unexpected Journey and noted that around the 18 minute mark Peter Jackson comments that the Sackville-Bagginses make an appearance. He says something along the lines that you’ll be able to go back and recognise them after watching movie three.
Source: AICN set report and Peter Jackson AUJ EE commentary.
Elrond and the Morgul-blade
Ringer LaurelinDena reminds of us of this snippet from the Weta Book ‘Cloaks and Daggers’ on page 166 where swordmaster Peter Lyon talks about the Morgul Blade.
Later we came to film a scene in which Elrond is seen casting the blade into the Witch-King’s tomb…
Additionally, Ringer Bow&Helm tells us that at the 1 hour and 17 minute mark when Radagast is scouting Dol Guldur, Peter Jackson makes a big big deal about the Morgul Blade. He makes pointedly mentions that it’s the same blade that stabbed Frodo and it will have a role in the later Hobbit movies.
Source: WETA’s book Cloaks and Daggers and Peter Jackson AUJ EE commentary.
The separated dwarves will re-unite
An easy guess, perhaps. But I don’t think any fans went into the cinema knowing that they would separate at Lake-town. So file this reunion under “reassuring to know”. Credit to Ringer Nightwraith for this one. Plus some additional confirmation via this picture showing Fili with a length of rope slung over one shoulder. Thanks to Ringer Silvereyed for that one.
JOE: Yeah, it was brilliant news for the film and for Aidan as well. You obviously spotted his incredible talent up close when you were working on The Hobbit films with him…
Richard: Yeah, he was such a great guy to work with. He was playing my nephew which was a little bit disconcerting considering that we’re not that far away in age, but he’s a great guy and he’s made something really exciting with that character. We’ve got some nice moments coming up in the third movie together.
Source: Joe.ie meets Richard Armitage.
Bilbo gains his mithril shirt
We don’t know exactly when, but in Vlog #11, Martin Freeman seems to be wearing a gleaming something under his blue-green coat that matches the pattern of the mithril shirt we see old Bilbo give to Frodo at Rivendell in The Fellowship of the Ring. Thanks to Ringer Draugo and Eric for the reminder!
Additional evidence comes from this publicity still which was published in one of the Desolation of Smaug books late last year. Check that glittering neckline. A couple of other observations from that photo: Bilbo has a different pack with a rope and a piton, and seems to be wearing Ori’s fingerless mittens. You can read my analysis of what that might mean here.
Tauriel and Kili together by the Long Lake
According to Finnish movie magazine Episodi a scene has been filmed where Tauriel and Kili are together by the lakeside and the scene is “breathtaking” according to Evangeline Lilly. The full article is about if the actors stole anything from the set. Translated to English from Finnish:
“Aidan must remember the day we were filiming a breathtaking scene by the Lake Pukaki. We were filming by the lakeside and Kili carries a moonstone with him. The whole lakeside was full of same looking stones so if I had dropped the stone it would have been difficult to find it again. After we were done with the filming I told the set team I had put the stone into my pocket and probably dropped it. We were trying to look for the stone but never found it. Later I took the stone from my pocket and took it home with me. It was very stunning light blue and glowing stone, I couldn’t help myself.” Lilly laughs.
Jackson is surprised to hear about the event.
“That scene is in the third movie. I think I might have to cut it away”, the director teases.
Source: Episodi. Translation courtesy of Ringer Kashetie.
Bats at the Battle of the Five Armies and orcs from Mt Gundabad
Ringer DanielLB reminds us that the matter of bats attending BOFA, and engaging in bloody battle with the Eagles has been broached in previous interview in Empire magazine. Information courtesy of who else but Richard Armitage (the man is a gold mine of hints!).
The news that The Hobbit was being split into three movies was met with a mixed reaction from fans, but perhaps the best part about the announcement was the fact it meant we will get to see “The Battle of Five Armies” brought to the big screen. It hasn’t even been shot yet, but talking to Empire Magazine recently, Richard Armitage had this to say about the battle sequence. “It’s been put aside until next year, thankfully,” he joked. “It’s this big thing looming over us. I’m predicting about ten weeks for the shoot because it’s an extensive battle and each character is going to have their ‘hero’ moment on the battlefield. It’s a manic fight in the air – the eagles are fighting bats – and on the ground, and I can’t wait to see what Pete does with that.” That’s right, the battle will see men, elves, dwarves, orcs and eagles all facing off for the future of Middle-Earth! It falls to second unit director Andy Serkis to handle the action, but he isn’t letting the pressure get to him. “It’s going to be intense beyond belief. It’s going to be extraordinary – that’s all I can say.”
The Gundabad orcs march under the dark cover of a cloud of bats
Source: Empire magazine.
Publicity still of Bard and his family
We believe this publicity still, which was published in the Empire magazine Desolation of Smaug edition could be from after the burning of Lake-town by Smaug the Dragon. Note the orange-red glow lighting their faces. Credit to Ringers Linwen, elliewellie and Anna for reminding us, and DanielLB for clarifying the source.
The edition also contained the quote below, but as Ringer Cirashala points out, it seems certain that the similar healing scene in Desolation of Smaug with Tauriel and Kili replaced it, and we won’t see this scene in BOTFA. Still, just to be complete, here it is:
“Yesterday, Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel — a young Silvan elf — resuscitated a dying human girl with a liquid burst of elvish.”
Source: Empire Magazine Desolation of Smaug edition. August 2013.
Fili leaps onto and falls off a (fake) goat
Thanks to Ringer Sophia for telling us about this one starting at around 4 minutes and 8 seconds in the vid below.
Aidan Turner: Does everyone know how Dean hurt his leg? He fell off a fake goat.
Dean O’Gorman: I did. I went “wheeee!”. I landed on it, and in slow motion this would have looked like I landed and was cool for about a second and then I went *mimes toppling over*.
Aidan Turner: The funny thing is they have to keep that take in the movie. So you see him jump on that goat that’s [garbled].
Dean O’Gorman: Yeah because I couldn’t do it again because I was going “aaaah, flip!”.
Source: Hobbit Q&A panel at Boston Comic Con 2013.
The dwarves emerge from Erebor wearing armour
Richard Armitage confirms that the dwarves will emerge from Erebor wearing full battle armour. Credit to Ringer Nightwraith for this one, too.
“It’s bloody heavy, but it’s absolutely beautiful to look at,” he said. “Every time they bring something new out, everyone gasps. The armour that the dwarves emerge from the mountain wearing at the end of the film will be the armour of all armour.”
Additionally, there’s a character poster from the marketing for The Desolation of Smaug that was released toward the end of last year. It depicts Thorin, Fili and Kili wearing chainmail — and we never (to my recollection) saw them wearing such armour in DOS. We don’t know whether this is the armour that Armitage is referring to, but it’s a possibility. Thanks to Ringer Lady Celebrian for the reminder.
To add to that, we also have this Production Blog still that shows Dori, Ori and Nori all armoured up. Thanks to Ringer Sjoerd Vlessert for the spot!
Tauriel’s tragic end
Earlier this year, Evangeline Lilly did Q&As on her Facebook about The Hobbit. Three of her answers teased the conclusion to Tauriel’s story. Much fodder for discussion here! Props to Ringer Z for the find.
It’s a fitting end that sets up Fellowship.
Hmm…can’t give anything away, but there is tragedy in her future.
Tauriel has a tragic ending, but I won’t say why!
Source: Evangeline Lilly Official Q&A on April 6-7 2014.
Gandalf rides to Erebor
Gandalf’s horse from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is up for sale, and owner Steve Old’s ad in TradeME and interview with TV3 NZ provided a couple helpful snippets about The Battle of the Five Armies.
First, the photo above shows of McKellen (or his double), riding Big Nick across what must be the Ruapehu Desert. The location is certainly not Te Anau. The original small photo is now updated with a higher-resolution version that reveals more detail courtesy of Ringer Snulleman.
The second is the quote below:
Draysill (Aka Big Nick) features extensively as Gandalf’s horse in action scenes on films 2 & 3.
Ridden by stunt riders on locations across NZ (in film 3 is seen galloping across the Ruapehu Desert and Te Anau locations) and he quietly stood with Sir Ian McKellen on his back in the film studio.
Additionally, Old told TV3 that:
Quite a lot, [McKellen would] be coming from the side and shaking his big stick .. or … staff, and yelling.
Seems that Gandalf will ride through the Desolation of Smaug to the aid of Thorin & Co. And he seems to be doing so alone — without the White Council in tow. Note that that doesn’t mean that they won’t be at Dol Guldur, just that the evidence does not indicate their presence at the Battle of the Five Armies.
Plus Gandalf might even fight from horseback during the Battle of the Five Armies.
Ringer Vinicius Vyller provides the photo below of Gandalf sitting inside Radagast’s bunnysled. The scene appears to be the ruin of Dale, going by the pattern of the flagstones (see here for similar patterns) and the leaf litter. It does seem to suggest that Radagast will travel to Dale?
And that’s it for now!
Now, if you’ve got this you’re probably thinking of leaving a comment. I’d like this comment thread to work differently to normal, though.
The intent of this post is simply to record what’s made it onto the record about the plot of The Battle of the Five Armies. It’s not an evaluation of whether any plot element is beneficial or not.
I’d like the comments to mirror that, too.
BEFORE YOU COMMENT
DO: Tell us your analysis of what is going on with some scene or line of dialogue, or your scoop on some item about the film that we’ve overlooked — I’m sure there’s stuff out there that we’ve missed. We want to know who, when and where.
DON’T: Spend several hundred words telling us why some change is good or bad, or why you feel Peter Jackson should be fired into the sun or why he’s the awesomest thing since Vegemite.
Because your comment will stand a good chance of being immediately deleted by our hardworking mods (who are the awesomest thing since Vegemite). There’ll be heaps of other posts in coming weeks and months where you can do that.
UPDATE: new update is on the way. It’s just being held up a bit by the complexity of Gandagast’s staff, and yours truly overdosing on the world cup. 🙂