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UPDATE: ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ is virtually finished, today is the last day

NZEALAND-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM-HOBBITIs the third and final Hobbit movie complete? There is some evidence to suggest it is, as social media folks from Weta Digital say they have finished the long, long job of bringing Middle-earth to the cinema.

From as good a source as a source can be, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” is not only virtually done as you read these words, this is the final day of production on the film. Keeping in mind that New Zealand (where, if you haven’t heard, the films are made) is 16 hours ahead of Hollywood, the following quote comes to TheOneRing.net from the future, Friday morning:

“Today is the day!! The last reel goes out the door tonight.”

2238536-pippin_sad_2We have also learned from two sources that Weta Digital delivered its final shot Thursday night, leaving the final touches on the final reel of the final film. Pure speculation here, but that must be an emotional process, knowing that the great big collection of talent is completing the task it set out to do years before. And for Jackson and those around him, it is definitely the end of an era.

A lot of tired workers at Weta Digital will be getting sleep soon but the filmmakers now begin the job of promoting the film around the world, starting with the world premiere in London.

There is of course the extended edition of the final film, but heading directly to the home video market is different from unfurling a film in a theater. But there you have it folks, this is the last work week for the full post-production team on The Hobbit. Fans will feel an era has ended as well. The original, more speculative article follows below.

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIESDirector Peter Jackson – who if you paid careful attention to the latest Hobbit trailers, also directed a trilogy based on The Lord of the Rings – likes to push deadlines and make changes on his films up to the last moment. He was clear at the world premiere of the first Hobbit film about how he literally made changes the night before the premiere.

So is the film finished or is just Weta Digital’s work finished? Or is only a division of Weta Digital’s team finished? Nobody who knows is saying for sure (although we have asked!) but it is very possible “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” has had its finishing digital touches added and is complete. All this inspired by the pen of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Galadriel and Gandalf at Dol Guldur.

Galadriel and Gandalf at Dol Guldur.

Typically the director or some combination of the director, producers and studio work on the film until they nail down its moments, beats and running time. Then the digital team finishes the film, working and polishing as much as time and money allow. With Jackson films, Weta Digital finishes parts way ahead and parts at the very last minute, working with the director closely. Concurrently, the score and sound effects are being mixed into the final finished product.

The film is shot in high frame rate, 3D and sound comes in a variety of format choices at the cinema including the most complicated and best sound: Dolby Atmos. All of these processes take time. In other words, there may still be a lot of details to get done before the film is done, but finished or not, the end is near and it is like twilight on the final day of Middle-earth movie making. Only clips for the inevitable extended edition remain and then, Jackson and company will soon say goodbye to Middle-earth forever.

Posted in Director Rumors, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Hobbit Fan Contest: Queenstown, gateway to Middle-earth adventure

NOTE: Click on any of the photos and then click again to see a much larger version. We think most of these are worth the clicks.

_MG_0928_smallYou can smell it in the air and see it in the water and there is just no disputing that Queenstown, New Zealand is a special place. The Hobbit Fan Contest winners left some pretty amazing experiences at Rotorua and especially Hobbiton Movie Set to climb on a plane at head to the south island of the two-island nation.

More than one fan wondered aloud, “How can they rest of the trip possibly live up to this?” And then Queenstown worked its charms. The area is heavily saturated with Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film lore. And while there was always tourism for the majestic Southern Alps and the Remarkables set around a ski resort town that also happens to be the gateway of the world, there will long be an impact there from the six episodes of Middle-earth Peter Jackson delivered. (more…)

Posted in Contests, Events, Fans, Hobbit Fan Contest, Hobbit Movie, LotR Movies, MrCere in New Zealand, New Zealand, Orlando Bloom, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tours

Hobbit Fan Contest winners dispersing all over the world

smaugLOS ANGELES — The contest has ended for the winners to be the ultimate Hobbit fans and watch the in-progress “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” film with Peter Jackson. That happened Thursday in Wellington and by Friday fans were traveling home, slowly spreading out away from Middle-earth and back to the four corners of the globe. Friendship ran deep among the group and the late night Auckland to Los Angeles flight still contained a decent share of the group that saw New Zealand in a whirlwind. The plane was also the famed Smaug-decorated jet and that surely seemed appropriate.

Jackson is back to work on the film, fans are spreading back around the globe, going home after an unforgettable week. TORn has been very busy collecting photos and experiences and will get a big report and maybe some other stories out this weekend. For the rest, three weeks remain until the the world premiere in London. Three weeks for Jackson and his editing team to make final decisions about the film. Three weeks for hundreds or likely thousands of hands at Weta Digital to finish hundreds of shots. Three weeks for Warner Bros. to ramp up its publicity machine and three weeks for actors to get ready to promote the film at red carpets and premieres on several continents.

The ultimate fan contest to bring hardcore fans together to see the final film in Middle-earth was a massive undertaking for Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Warners. While not every single detail was perfect, there is little doubt for those who went, the week was the trip of a lifetime. Besides the screening there was an incredible day at the Hobbiton Movie Set, the cultural welcome at Rotorua, all kinds of adventures in Queenstown and then a dash through Wellington with glimpses into Weta Workship, Weta Digital and the rarest of movie experiences with Jackson and company.

Posted in Contests, Events, Hobbit Fan Contest, Hobbit Movie, MrCere in New Zealand, The Hobbit

Video: Hobbit Movie Set casts its magic over Hobbit fan contest winners

QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND — The Hobbit Fan Contest winners and attending media are here in Queenstown and things have been a little busy. It’s a balance of gathering vs. sitting on a computer and typing (although in the incredible Hotel St. Moritz that is pretty sweet) and I am erring on the side of gathering today. So, no great big post but trust me when I say the photos collected from here can make a grown man cry, even if that grown man is me. Something about here touches me emotionally.

In a quick recap we visited Beorn’s realm yesterday, had a scavenger hunt, traveled to get here, had a jeep excursion to the freezing cold, breathtaking top of the world and then flung ourselves off bridges towards freezing water.

But, for now, I wanted to share a video that Tourism New Zealand put together of the fans in Hobbiton and Rotorua from Day 2 of this event. It really captures some of the genuine emotions people felt at the Hobbiton Movie Set. So, enjoy! Oh and you can watch fans watch the new trailer than you can see too in a couple of days.

Posted in Contests, Events, Fans, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Fan Contest, Hobbit Movie, Jed Brophy, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Meet Ups, Stephen Hunter, The Hobbit

A magical day at Hobbiton Movie Set features new ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ trailer

Fireworks2HOBBITON — A visit to Hobbiton Movie Set for winners of the Hobbit Fan Contest had, all-in-all, a pretty amazing day — and then they saw the trailer.

For readers who don’t know, the shooting set for exteriors of the Shire in Hobbit trilogy is preserved for visitors on the farm where it was originally used for the “Lord of the Rings,” films. It provides a fully immersive environment that fans worldwide agree is singularly special and it runs tours daily.

So besIt also didn’t hurt that actors Jed Brophy, John Callen, Mark Hadlow and Stephen Hunter surprised visitors at a feast inside the full-service eatery on site: The Green Dragon. Nor did the flowing drink, the plentiful food, the expertly guided tours, but what else can be done to delight 150 of the most die-hard fans in the world?

Have Peter Jackson, by way of recorded video, introduce the just-finished, and last, trailer for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” It brought the house down.

DwarvesIn the very Hobbity party tent behind The Green Dragon all the gathered fans and media were clearly and repeatedly instructed to turn off our cameras so it was obvious something different was happening. Even the most honored guests, the actors were placed in the front but looking forward with the audience.

Matthew Dravitzki, an Associate Producer on the trilogy and a key figure behind Jackson’s team who usually escapes the spotlight, spoke to the fans and introduced the video. He also required that we viewers not share the details, especially the specifics, so you will not read them here. But I think its okay if I say, it’s serious as a heart attack, gloomy as a storm front and as epic as battle of five armies.

And wow, do my fingers itch to type more.

Afterwards the groups of fans, split up for logistical purposes and took the new (to me) night tour around the set. Under the party tree the groups gathered to finally end a pretty amazing day. In fact, it may be difficult to match during the rest of the trip. To say fans were ecstatic is no exaggeration. There were, at several points, tears of joy and disbelief.

GondolaThe day started in the rain at the Skyline Rotorua. Fans and reporters were generously offered the opportunity to enjoy various activities that included wine tasting, a zip line, a luge and a skyswing. Then it was off to the movie set for a day that was absolutely packed.

TORn interviewed the four actors together in a group with hilarious results. We will post it at a later date, depending on how quickly we get the video and quickly I can possibly post it but it’s great fan service from four classy New Zealand gentlemen.

The owner of the sheep and cattle farm the set sits on and his son who run it, Ian and Russel Alaexander, were on hand for interviews as well. TORn didn’t catch up with them, but plenty of media outlets did. In the late afternoon, in the guise of introducing The Green Dragon, fans were led into the room where the actors and executives were enjoying dinner and where media was stationed to grab reactions. As anticipated, tears where shed, hugs were shared and memories were made. Staff working on the event expressed a lot of tender emotions while watching fans enjoy the surprise so much.

I was pleased to have time to mix and mingle with fans — and I met a lot of them and enjoyed it every time. Before long it was trailer time. Despite this group’s appointment this week to screen the actual film with director Peter Jackson, the trailer announcement was greeted with great excitement.

Dravitzki promised a triple showing and delivered. All three times fans hushed each other at the start, not wanting to miss any dialog.

Then it was outdoors for the night tour when fireworks were triggered. Then, off to buses and tomorrow, Queenstown.

Posted in Events, Fans, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jed Brophy, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Meet Ups, MrCere in New Zealand, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, Stephen Hunter, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tours

New Zealand gives Hobbit winners a grand cultural welcome

AirNZWelcome

ROTORUA — The first full day is in the books in a historic gathering of Middle-earth fans from around the world. And while there were some tired eyes there were lots more genuine smiles and the excitement of anticipation of a fan’s trip of a lifetime. Along with 150 Hobbit fans, about 30 or so journalists met on the tarmac at Auckland airport to get a photo with the pride of Air New Zealand’s fleet, its Thorin-and-company-emblazoned carrier.

The logistics of making just that happen means many buses, many credentials, many places to store luggage and quite a lot of hustle and bustle.

Tourism New Zealand is out in force to get everybody where they need to be as is Warners Bros. and just some of the many faces behind the many travel details that had to come together to bring this world-wide collection together.

BarbadosThe winners are divided into groups that help everybody keep everybody else organized. Credential lanyards are color coded to signify who is who and where they are from. If you arrived from the Americas, including winner Rori Griffith and her father Derek from Barbados, you are signified a Hobbit and get a green lanyard. Australasia are yellow wizards, Asia are blue elves and Europeans are red dwarves. Anybody else instantly transported to the video game Gauntlet? Oh and the media are signified as white orcs. Oh yes, we media are villains! We find our bus with signs and banners with CGI Azog himself and yes, that is me down in the photo gallery taking a self-portrait to demonstrate our similar haircuts. Staff are purple with the ever-present black “staff” shirts. The very helpful and cheerful staff will be present and recognizable in many, many photos I have no doubt. (more…)

Posted in Contests, Events, Fans, Hobbit Fan Contest, Hobbit Movie, Meet Ups, MrCere in New Zealand, The Hobbit

Hobbit Contest winners converge in Auckland

AucklandAUCKLAND — It was a great idea to have world-wide winners converge in New Zealand to watch “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” with Peter Jackson. Great concept right? Everybody is pleased and excited that fans get such a great experience.

There are also some unintended and great side effects. This unique gathering is also one of the greatest gatherings of Middle-earth fans anywhere, ever. Imagine 150 people from around the globe converging on Middle-earth and all of them deeply emotionally attached to cinematic Middle-earth, many of them also lovers of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. Imagine the flights and the logistics to get people from Mexico and Finland and Ohio and London and Salt Lake City and lots of other even harder-to-get-here places, all together this morning in Auckland. Arriving on the 8 a.m. flight was a pretty amazing mental exercise.

I feel like the American contingent was among the last to arrive, fitting since we sleep on the flight and more or less show up ready to go. Others traveled for 30 or 40 hours with multiple flights and layovers to make it here. It all feels pretty amazing.

TheOneRing is here with, just a guess, but perhaps 30 journalists world wide. That definitely includes the Hollywood Reporter since I met and chatted with their rep this morning. A breakfast started 45 minutes ago, but I wanted to post right away and tell the world, in the immortal words of Penny Lane, IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

art-Air-New-Zealand-Hobbit-1-620x349TORn is no stranger to Auckland since its where our own Quickbeam, Cliff Broadway, and I (MrCere) spent a week with Air New Zealand filming the very first Middle-earth safety video. In fact, the place just isn’t the same without him! (You can see the video and the behind-the-scenes video about the video in our old post here. While the newest one, in use on our aircraft, is right here.)

Speaking of Air New Zealand, they sure know how to make a flight great. I will sound like a corporate puppet, but they offer better in-flight entertainment, treat customers better and simply provide a better experience than anybody in the business.

It’s worth noting that my very reliable phone bit the dust at the Los Angeles Airport and a some quick cab rides provided me a new phone – that happens to not have a functioning camera out of the box. What are the odds? This makes Twitter much less effective, but we shall see. When I was here for the world premiere of the first Hobbit movie the motherboard on my laptop went out, so I believe its a plot from Mordor to stop me sharing the fan experience with fans. We shall prevail!

Anyway, I feel pretty confident TheOneRing.net just filed the first story from the event and we will continue to share as much as possible. The good news, there will be LOTS of photos of amazing New Zealand. Stay tuned!

Posted in Events, Hobbit Fan Contest, Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Exclusive teaser video from ‘Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Extended Edition

We know many of our readers consider the Extended Edition of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies the definitive editions, but what many of our staff really love are the extras on the home editions. Filmmaker Michael Pellerin is the architect and creative force behind the features that give us insight into the movie-making team and experience. In fact his team’s work is absolutely essential viewing.

So, TheOneRing.net is pleased to share with viewers, courtesy of Warner Bros., an exclusive teaser from the edition. This short clip (and please watch it in full screen in HD) is from The Appendices Part IX, from a featurette called “Barrels Out of Bond: The Elven Sluice”. (more…)

Posted in Adam Brown, Aidan Turner, Crew News, Dean O'Gorman, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, Production, Richard Armitage, Simon Bright, Studios, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien, Warner Bros., William Kircher

Middle-earth filmmakers set their sights on stop motion ‘Birds’

BirdsCatching up with some of our friends from New Zealand, we learned about a project that involves the efforts of a lot of Kiwis, including Sylvester McCoy of Hobbit fame and Lord of the Rings’ Alex Funke. For good measure New Zealand’s Grammy winner Kimbra (Somebody That I Used To Know) is supporting the project with her voice.

In the age of computer generated effects, the film “Birds” is a throwback. A friend to TORn, Horst Sarubin, who worked on visual effects for the three Hobbit films, is behind the project that uses puppets, shot one frame at a time with incremental movements between frames to create a motion picture. The film, about the struggles of George the bird in the primordial forests of Zealandia (pre-historic New Zealand) to carry on.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEYMcCoy is well known for his bird whistles and humor, which Hobbit director Peter Jackson definitely brought through the former Dr. Who’s Radagast into cinematic Middle-earth. In the film’s kickstarter campaign McCoy presents those whistles and gets a little bird treat in return. In the same video Funke, who is best know for helping make the LOTR bigatures look amazing on screen, explains his role is to make the cinematography great.

The stop-motion technique is being employed to give the filmmakers a hands-on experience and a final project they claim will be alive and organic. Tying closely with the passions of Peter Jackson, these are the same techniques used by Ray Harryhausen and Willis H. O’Brien. The original King Kong movie was made in this fashion, inspiring a generation of filmmakers.

With a team of grass-roots talent with a Middle-earth cinematic legacy efforting the film and a universal appealing story, but set in the ancient human-free land that would eventually become New Zealand, TORn readers may want to know further information is available at georgethebird.com. The grass-roots effort is seeking fan support via the kickstarter campaign above.

Posted in Alex Funke, Crew News, Lord of the Rings, Models, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit

Dain Ironfoot: Hints, clues & looks at one of the final ‘Hobbit’ mysteries

dain2One of the big visual secrets of the final Middle-earth movie from Peter Jackson, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” is Dain Ironfoot. Played by Billy Connoly, Dain is a character that is essential to the story but isn’t incredibly fleshed out in J.R.R. Tolkien source material that was originally intended for children.

Our own Demosthenes has this excellent analysis of Connolly as Dain complete with quotes and descriptions of the character. It has long been reported that Dain will arrive on the scene riding a war boar but clearly Jackson’s team has been careful not to reveal this in any teaser trailers so far, and, lets hope it stays that way.

But, visuals of the character have started to seep into the public eye. With giant franchise films like The Hobbit, it’s impossible to put a lid on too much because merchandise and toys need to start selling before the film hits theaters (and before it is finished!) and that means that at the very least, clues are out in the wild.

The image at the top of this story, for example, clearly displays Lego Dain and it jives with the descriptions that are out there including this one from Connolly via Yahoo Australia:

“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.”

The Lego character appears to be a ginger and is wearing a red chest piece as part of his armor, giving him a distinct look that will visually set him apart in cinemas so viewers will know instantly that he isn’t like the dwarves we have spent so much time with so far. He is a new element with a distinct mount, armor and will be immediately recognizable and unique.

DainThe Lego Dain even evokes a little bit of Connolly to me visually, although it could be a previous bias.

The concept art here seems to really compliment the Lego image as something close to Dain’s final design. The helms certainly seem similar in shape and color and the beards seem the same in shape and color. There are differences however in the color of the breastplate, although details on a Lego toy are only meant to be a representation and not a literal translation. In fact the looking and speculation from still images of a toy and a concept art is fun because of how different the motion picture experience is from a still image. In the day of CGI, what is filmed may or may not even resemble what ends up on screen.

UPDATE EDIT: Readers have correctly pointed out the below image is of Dwalin. The writer has been sacked.


Dain Mohawk

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, Make Up, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Update: New Bilbo image from final ‘Hobbit’ movie – now available full size

TORn Display 730W


A new image this morning from Warner Bros., this time first on TORn and featuring the character we sometimes remember the whole story is named after, Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit!

Of note with this new image, old Bilbo is a changed man from promotional material of movies past. He is battle tested and trusty Sting is positively dripping with oil fluid orc blood. He is gritty and grim and ready to stab the viewer, giving us a glimpse of what death-by-Hobbit looks like. It also flashes back a bit to Frodo from “The Lord of the Rings,” when he is threatening Gollum with the same weapon.

If you aren’t watching the calendar, we are now just over two months from the release of the final Middle-earth movie of the Peter Jackson era with Extended Editions, red carpet premieres and hoped-for trailers also on the horizon. It’s a good time to be a Tolkienite!

UPDATE: You can get a full size version by clicking the super big one below! Bilbo full size

Posted in Characters, Hobbit Movie, Martin Freeman, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

A complete history of Tolkien and video games

jrr-tolkiens-the-lord-of-the-rings-vol-ii-the-two-towers_3.0In 1982, Beam Software and publisher Melbourne House brought Tolkien’s world to computers with a text adventure based on The Hobbit. (An emulator of the ZX Spectrum version is available to play online.)

Back then, the original licensor — in this case the Tolkien Estate itself, or Tolkien Enterprises (now Middle-earth Enterprises) — would allow licensees to sometimes resell the license. It appears that at this time the animated films shared a license with the first round of video games.

Enthusiasm for Tolkien adaptations ramped up in the wake of the 1980 animated film The Return of the King, based on the final book in Tolkien’s trilogy. Following Beam’s text adventure, developer Interplay Productions turned over an in-production fantasy role-playing game, changing the theme to a Lord of the Rings adaptation. Writer Jennell Jaquays, now the owner of Dragongirl Studios, said she was hired by Interplay to write background and some “adventuring” for the RPG.

All of this is according to author Alexa Ray Corriea for Polygon.com. You can read the entire article right here. (more…)

Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Collectibles, Gaming, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Other Merchandise, The Hobbit, Tolkien