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Review: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Extended Edition among best home video editions — ever

Extended Edition national Blu-ray 3D

Extended Edition national Blu-ray 3D

The home video market is dead or dying — so they say.  The digital age has brought on massive changes on how we view movies and in a relatively short time.  The ways we consumed the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy is vastly different from how we tackle “The Hobbit.”

Many consumers actually jumped to the DVD format from VHS tapes with “Fellowship of the Ring.”  But in the digital revolution, that was ages ago, back when everybody bought movies for home use and there was seemingly ever growing stacks of money to be made from that market.

Studios once had a cash cow in DVDs but the milk has dried up now.  Once, extravagant DVDs and box sets ruled store shelves while today we visit Red Box and Netflix.

So when a Blu-ray like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Extended Edition,” comes to market it is going against the grain, against conventional wisdom and against market trends.  It’s also the best home release of 2013.

The film is still the film.  If you loved it you will love it more.  If you had problems with it, you will still have problems with it.  The added time didn’t fix what people say is broken.  But if you haven’t seen the film, for the home experience, I do recommend the Extended Edition.  The length includes some character moments that make the film more a little more satisfying but not in a major way.  A bathroom break is close to mandatory and while you can’t pause a theater, its easy from your own couch.

But while many think about the movie, make no mistake, the real prize here are The Appendicies content; Those who are only looking at this for the film are missing the point entirely.  In fact, this collection, is itself a tremendous film that would be worth buying even without the cinema release.  The movie itself is essential in the package, but what launches these discs into rare air is everything else that comes with it.

Prone to exercise laudatory caution because I write for TheOneRing, and I realize too much praise causes readers to become dismissive and classify the writer as a fan boy, I still proclaim with no hesitation that this is among the finest home video releases in history.  It sits on a shelf in rarefied air with a very few discs that can even compare.  Among those are the Extended LOTR editions, of which this is a companion piece.

While we are here talking credentials, let me fully disclose that I was on set to witness “The Hobbit,” being filmed for five weeks and I know (and like) many on all sides of the camera.  More than that, I also interned for a couple of weeks with the producers of the behind-the-scenes content.  I am even credited for extra interviews, so take my perceptions as you wish.

Even if you didn’t love the movie, the exploration of the process is a wonder to behold and the whole is a triumph.  And, this triumph comes with WB and MGM financing this content behind-the-scenes content.  This level of excellence doesn’t just happen and it isn’t cheap.  It takes financial commitment, planning and time.  With rumors of late delivery circulating, creating a shortage of discs in some places, I believe I speak for many fans who emphatically say, “So what?  The wait is worth it.”

Despite all the greatness on the discs, there are a few things that are disappointing, so lets start with those.

PACKAGING

Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

There is nothing about these covers that are exceptional or especially tasteful to tell consumers that these aren’t just another release on a store shelf.  For some reason, with few exceptions, the marketing at Warner Bros. insists on slapping a bunch of floating character mugshots in a college for these films at every opportunity.  More isn’t better and especially when even the casual audience knows what “The Hobbit,” is.  Nobody is saying, “What? Gandalf is also in this movie?!”

A cover with a central visual idea would be a vast improvement and for these discs, there should be a graceful, classic cover, not a garish collection of floating heads.  Better still would have been a style match with the LOTR EEs. The back of the 3-disc Blu-ray is actually great and would serve as a nice cover.

While we are here, the Bilbo in front of Erebor “Desolation of Smaug,” poster was infinitely more powerful that the nightmare LSD trip of Middle-earth’s usual suspects in the latest one.  Boo.  Very much related, if the Hobbit home video release couldn’t be a stylized match with the LOTR releases, at least we could have had a strong central character instead of a collection of them that says nothing.

Gollum and Bilbo exchanging riddles in the dark might be a place to start.  The film’s strongest sequence, virtually perfect even, highlights a key moment in Middle-earth, sells us a familiar character and gives us an absolute iconic moment from literature.  If things were right in the world, WB would issue an inexpensive replacement slip cover for a couple of dollars that ties this release back to the LOTR EEs.  Seriously.

The art on the discs are quite good.

COMMENTARIES

The commentaries with Philippa Boyens (writer, producer) and Peter Jackson (writer, director, producer) are good, but again, this is meant to be a companion disc and viewers really want more commentary perspectives as they were given in the LOTR discs.  Obviously the filmmaker’s take are essential but including cast or key figures like Dan Hennah or Richard Taylor might be expensive, and not financially viable by the studios, but they are sorely missed.  An unrealistic dream commentary might be to have all 13 main dwarf actors on one track or two tracks with half on each.  Careful sound editing would be needed but Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Graham McTavish, John Callen and William Kircher and all the rest, would be brilliant.  There are two movies left to get this right.

I am sure there are many who will take exception to comparing the discs but for certain, many consumers are doing it. These are intellectually built to go together.

But, lets move on to the good (great) with a look at what is included on most versions of the film.  It is worth noting that there is a Wal-Mart version of the Extended Editions available with minimal extras. (Hate to call them extras because they are main featured content.)  Even if consumers think they want to save a few dollars and get that version, they actually don’t.  There is no circumstance where that option is a wise choice.  Any viewer willing to commit to a three-hour Extended Edition deserves to have the story of the film as well for a few dollars difference.  Friends don’t let friends buy foolishly.

Cate BlanchettDISC 1

Extended Edition of the film with filmmakers’ commentary and
“New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth”

The commentary is mentioned above but the video feature sounds like it might be a commercial for New Zealand.  It is actually, with celebrity endorsements.  Newsflash: New Zealand is amazing.

DISC 2

The Appendices Part 7: A Long-Expected Journey -

This is a timeline of the movie that breaks down into parts how it was made, more or less, following the chronology of the film.  Of course films aren’t made chronologically, but following the organization of the film is helpful.   And the docs aren’t strictly about “how we did this,” as much as they highlight interesting stories from a particular segment of the production.

The beefiest is the first, “The Journey Back to Middle-earth,” which also happens to be excellent.  It follows the almost absurd series of roadblocks that threatened to keep this film from being made.  Viewers who followed TheOneRing will recall those days when it seemed time and again, fate had conspired to kill the film.  This is excellent content that wouldn’t be included on many DVDs of other films.

The studios bravely allowed the team to tackle subjects like the financial problems that almost derailed the films and the hiring and departure of Guillermo del Toro.

It would have been much safer to sanitize these events and it happens on many Hollywood “extras” projects but here they are addressed head on — an impressive inclusion.  That first documentary is a definite highlight but every single one of them holds up high standards of storytelling and visuals that feel as though the essential moments were not only talked about but captured.

Christopher LeeIt is in fact the best big-story view on this topic available in either print or film.  To better understand sitting down and watching “The Hobbit,” in the cinema, this is essential viewing.  It is also great not to start with the first day of pre-production but to have a wider view of the whole works.

One of the best segments, perhaps my favorite, is “A Short Rest: Rivendell and London.”  The fact that the production went to London to film Sir Christopher Lee and Ian Holm is common knowledge.  A lesser documentary might spend its time making just the fact of traveling from New Zealand to London to shoot the focus of the story.  Instead, that is established and then the focus is placed on something far more interesting than it just happening: Lee and Holm.

Jackson and Lee are on camera holding up production so those gathered around can listen to Lee remember parts of his life that are legendary on the silver screen.  He also gives Jackson some good-natured crap and it is respectfully returned.  Graham McTavish and Adam Brown are also on hand, despite not filming, to listen to Lee and help the storytelling by putting his presence in perspective.  It is gold and in fact, it is a pity somebody doesn’t produce an entire film based on the man behind Saruman.

Included in the same section is a pretty incredible give-and-take between Jackson, Cate Blanchett, Fran Walsh on a telephone and Ian McKellen.  They discussed character motivations and all the bigger questions behind the dialog on the script page.  It is pretty incredible.  There are some excellent moments with Hugo Weaving.  It all felt intimate, rare and was fascinating.

There are a lot of bright spots here and in fact they are more or less all bright spots, or will be to somebody.   The producers and director Michael Pellerin seemingly pushed for excellence and achieved it.

HobbitEE_1400x2100_USChapters include:

  • The Journey Back to Middle-earth
  • Riddles in the Dark: Gollum’s Cave
  • An Unexpected Party: Bag End
  • Roast Mutton: Trollshaws Forest
  • Bastion of the Greenwood: Rhosgobel
  • A Short Rest: Rivendell and London
  • Over Hill: The Misty Mountains
  • Under Hill: Goblin Town
  • Out of the Frying Pan: The Forest Ledge
  • Return to Hobbiton: The Shire
  • The Epic of Scene 88: Strath Taieri
  • The Battle of Moria: Azanulbizar
  • Edge of the Wilderland: Pick-ups and the Carrock
  • Home Is Behind, the World Is Ahead

Jackson also appears on an introduction to promise more extended editions with DOS and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.”

DISC 3

The Appendices Part 8: RePeter Jackson Laketownturn to Middle-Earth -

This disc delivers production details, some conspicuously missing from the film. For example:

The Company of Thorin -

The families of the dwarves are grouped together to give us more details and insights into these characters and actors. These associations are pretty tough to pick out on screen but are well presented here.  Knowing more about these characters will likely enhance view of “The Desolation of Smaug.”  Pity some of this wasn’t woven into the narrative. If you aren’t keeping score the chapters are, by family:

  • Assembling the Dwarves
  • Thorin, Fili & Kili
  • Balin & Dwalin
  • Oin & Gloin
  • Dori, Nori & Ori
  • Bifur, Bofur & Bombur

Martin Freeman enjoys telling the behind-the-scenes cameras they are number one, always with his middle finger or fingers. Here is another case of content many studios would shy away from, but a short collection of Freeman giving the one-fingered salute is part of the reveal of who this Martin Freeman is.

So in the next segment, and perhaps my favorite on this disc, we meet:

Software brought Gollum's skin to life for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," earning it an Oscar for technology and science

Software brought Gollum’s skin to life for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” earning it an Oscar for technology and science

Mr. Baggins: The 14th Member

Next we get more tasty features:

  • Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves
  • The Peoples and Denizens of Middle-earth
  • These are broken into chapters:
  • The Stone Trolls
  • Radagast the Brown
  • Goblins
  • Azog the Defiler

Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town — We spend an hour with locations, time well spent.

  • Hobbiton
  • Rhosgobel
  • The Misty Mountains
  • Goblin Town

The Songs of The Hobbit – A look at the realization of Tolkien’s songs in An Unexpected Journey.

This last item is another of my favorites.  It demonstrates that despite being last, it isn’t any less interesting that what came before.  There isn’t fat here to pad out the disc but instead highly polished, carefully produced, interesting, quality content.

TECHNICAL STUFF

wideDwarves0712The movie looks and sounds great, showing off how good Andrew Lesnie and his team are at shooting moving pictures.  How great does it look?  If you go to the audio, visual, home theater or electronics stores, bring the Blu-ray version of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” with you to test out the things you might buy.  The picture is lovely with great details in blacks (Riddles in the Dark) excellent color and all the rich details coming to life.  Hate to sound hyperbolic, but when it comes to audio and visual excellence, this disc is leading the industry.

The sound comes in 7.1 surround, meaning it can send seven sounds to seven speakers to create a sound atmosphere, if you home is equipped, showing off the genuine excellence in sound design through out the film.  This is a noisy movie with loud characters, loud animals and orcs, some dragon scenes, deep rumbling stone giants and lots of general chaos.

But, the dialog is always ready and easy to hear, including some pretty subtle Ian McKellen lines that come through just fine.  In fact, if you have the proper system in your home, sitting in the middle of the sound environment, closing your eyes and just listening is a real pleasure.

FINAL TAKE

This movie is worth owning a Blu-ray player for.  The film, no matter how much you like it or don’t, is technically amazing.  The extra scenes improve it slightly but just as importantly, there is a wealth of documentaries that are collectively and individually great and paint an excellent picture of what made “The Hobbit,” happen.  I meant it when I said it above, this is among the finest home video releases in history.  Minor quibbles aside, MGM and Warner Bros. did right by fans and this does stand alongside its LOTR EE predecessors.  While this film doesn’t extended as much or as importantly, its extras are as good and perhaps better.

 

 

DVD-Infographic_v2

Posted in Blu-Ray, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Director news, DVDs, Fran Walsh, Guillermo Del Toro, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Merchandise, MGM, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Production, Studios, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Warner Bros.

Evangeline Lilly gets personal with TORn about Tauriel and ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel.

(Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel.)

Desolation of Smaug poster artworkWELLINGTON, New Zealand — Those outside of the movie making business often don’t understand what The Producer does on a film. The quickest answer is: They get the movie made. They get things done.

In the case of Zane Weiner on “The Hobbit,” it meant getting in touch with someone nobody was meant to get in touch with.

Evangeline Lilly.

Living in Hawaii, she was a month removed from the birth of her child, email turned off, not taking calls about work and still confined to bed rest.

“So I was still in bed with the baby,” she told TheOneRing.net in full Tauriel outfit and gear during a lunch break on a full day of filming on “The Hobbit.”

This lunch tent, while perhaps not glamorous, is an essential part of Stone Street Studios and making Peter Jackson movies, designed to feed and shelter quite an enormous crowd. Breakfast was served there for anybody wanting to start the day off right. Coffee and tea were available on any sound stage but also in the tent — a first stop for many on a shoot. (more…)

Posted in Evangeline Lilly, Fran Walsh, Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Hadlow, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, MrCere in New Zealand, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Production, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien

Warner Bros. full synopsis for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug provides some plot hints?

desolation of smaug poster I can’t recall if this has been previously revealed, but this official synopsis — more complete than the short version currently on The Hobbit website — actually has some really interesting implications if you have a read through and examine who’s listed and (more importantly), who’s not.

As folks observed after the debut of the second Desolation of Smaug trailer, Guillermo del Toro is back in the credits for his work on the screenplay. There’s a co-producer nod for the late Eileen Moran as well. Highlight the space below to read the key omissions, and some fairly hefty spoiler analysis of what those omissions could mean for the movie.

 


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. (more…)

Posted in Adam Brown, Aidan Turner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dean O'Gorman, Evangeline Lilly, Fran Walsh, Graham McTavish, Guillermo Del Toro, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, Howard Shore, Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt, Jed Brophy, John Bell, John Callen, Ken Stott, Lawrence Makoare, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Manu Bennett, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, Mikael Persbrandt, Peter Hambleton, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Richard Armitage, Stephen Hunter, Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit, William Kircher

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition release date

The Hobbit an Unexpected JourneyIt’s almost here!  Before we get to The Desolation of Smaug, we can start that Unexpected Journey all over again with the Extended Edition of the first Hobbit movie!  The digital download of the movie will be available October 22nd – that’s just next week! – with the Blu-ray 3D and DVD versions to follow on November 5th in the US, November 11th in the UK.

The word from the official press release is that this extended version ‘Features a 13-Minute Longer Cut and Nearly Nine Hours of New Special Features.’  The digital download will be available exclusively on iTunes from 22nd October, before being made widely available on 4th November.

The press release quotes Peter Jackson:

“I’m thrilled that the Extended Edition will give fans the opportunity to experience certain key scenes in the film as they were originally shot, as well as an abundance of special features,” said Jackson. “It’s exciting to present this expanded and enriched version of An Unexpected Journey to allow fans to fully immerse themselves in the movie, before seeing the second part of the trilogy.”

Here’s what we can expect in those nearly nine hours of special features:
•    Commentary with Peter Jackson, Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Philippa Boyens, Co-Producer/Screenwriter
•    The Appendices – A multi-part chronological history of the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, covering pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the boot camp training for the main cast, the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects.
•    New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth [A documentary film we assume, though the press release doesn’t say anything else about this feature.]

Once the Extended Edition is available in ‘hard copy’ in November, you’ll be able to choose from a 5-disc Blu-ray 3D set that features the Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray versions of the Extended Edition, or a 5-disc DVD set. The Blu-ray 3D and DVD both include UltraViolet versions of the movie, allowing download and instant streaming.

As soon as we have more details to bring you about the Extended Edition – for example, any different sets or packaging, and any international variations – we will of course bring you that news!  Meanwhile, just over a week and we can see those extended scenes… Let the countdown begin!

[Pre-order The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray.]

[Pre-order The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition DVD.]

[Pre-order The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray 3D.]

[Pre-order The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition with Gollum/Bilbo statue.]

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVD/Blu-Ray, DVDs, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

‘Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition’ release dates, content, pricing announced

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

Fans anxious for word on the “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition,” can officially check off calendar dates, Warner Bros. has released the Kracken — or at least the dates when it will release what is expected to be a monster on home video. In the U.S. Tuesday, Nov., 5 is the street date available for the film with its 13 extra minutes of footage edited and scored directly into the film. That means customers can walk in and buy it off the shelf or, as more often is the case with big title releases, look for it from home delivery after buying it online or pick it up from the outlet where they have placed a pre-order. Those purchasing a digital download can have it much sooner, October 22nd (likely a world-wide availability date.) International street dates vary, but it is believed Nov. 4 is the date for the U.K..
U.S. consumers will have three options with different suggest retails price:
* 5-disc Blu-ray 3D set ($54.98) (includes a non-3D Blu-ray version)
* 3-disc Blu-ray ($35.99)
* 5-disc DVD ($34.99)

In a press release from Warner Bros., Peter Jackson said of the new edition:

“I’m thrilled that the Extended Edition will give fans the opportunity to experience certain key scenes in the film as they were originally shot, as well as an abundance of special features,” said Jackson. “It’s exciting to present this expanded and enriched version of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ to allow fans to fully immerse themselves in the movie, before seeing the second part of the trilogy.” 

Each of the three films in Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings,” trilogy received a deluxe Extended Edition treatment around November after a December theatrical release and for many fans those longer cuts of the films are the definitive versions. Also widely loved are the extras on those editions which stand, even for non-Tolkien / Jackson fans, as among the elite extras on any film ever released. With the deflation of the home video market, extras on film releases are definitely trending downward in quality and quantity as studios see less or no return on the investment to put added value on the discs but that does not seem to be the case here.

The Two Towers Extended Edition

The Two Towers Extended Edition

The same team behind those releases (which were ported unchanged to Blu-ray) have done the work here to tell the story behind first The Hobbit film with an announced “nearly nine hours” of content. They also shot and produced the video blogs that Jackson has posted on his personal Facebook page during the production of the films directly to fans and which served as the extras for the theatrical home video release of the films. The press release announcing the extra content on the Extended Edition of the film not only boasts nine hours of content but an audio commentary from director, producer and screenwriter Jackson and Philippa Boyens who earned a co-producer and screenwriting credit on the films. The extras are described as “The Appendices – A multi-part chronological history of the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” This fits in with the LOTR discs and how they were titled, which bodes wellfor them fitting as an entire package.

The released box art of the EEs is not what many readers of TheOneRing.net hoped for. Nothing is exactly wrong with the shot of Bilbo Baggins holding his sword Sting and looking a bit worried against a generic forest background, but it feels standard and bland on a version of the film that consumers want to be special. Each of the LOTR films was a different solid color with the film’s title in gold with appropriate and subtle Tolkien-esque markings around the box. In fact, the packaging was virtually flawless for those films, matching the high standard of content. A non-staff story about this subject was posted just this week.

The-Hobbit-An-Unexpected-Journey-33795_1In fairness, those titles were a different studio’s release (part of New Line Cinema’s Platinum Series) and this is a different commercial era for home video. With a declining market it is easy to see why a studio would want any consumer, especially casual ones, to know immediately what film they are looking at on a store shelf. However, these Extended Editions may well get lost among the regular editions instead of stand out as distinct and prestigious. This writer doesn’t speak for TORn, but I am disappointed.

Still, it is a solid bet that viewers are much more concerned with what is on the inside of the box and call it a hunch, with the production video blogs setting the standard, this content will delight consumers. This is a good time for the public to demonstrate to film studios how much we do care about excellent content to go with fan-favorite films on home video releases. If sales aren’t stellar, who knows what the fate of the next two films’ extended editions might be.

TheOneRing.net will review the Extended Edition and the added content as soon as it becomes available to us. We will also keep readers updated with different added-value incentives from big retailers, if any are available. The entire press release is presented below after a clip from the extended edition.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY EXTENDED EDITION

A PRODUCTION OF NEW LINE CINEMA
AND METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES,
ARRIVES ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD ON
OCTOBER 22TH AND ON BLU-RAY 3DTM,
BLU-RAY™ AND DVD NOVEMBER 5TH FROM
WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Features a 13-Minute Longer Cut and 
 Nearly Nine Hours of New Special Features
Burbank, Calif., July 31, 2013 – Fans of Middle-earth will have the opportunity to gain a broader experience of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, from Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, when the epic fantasy adventure is released as an Extended Edition on Digital Download October 22nd and on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD on November 5th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE). A production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, this new cut includes 13 minutes of extra film footage that extends individual scenes, making this the must-see, definitive version for fans. All disc versions of the Extended Edition include nearly nine hours of new bonus features and will be available just ahead of the December 13 theatrical release of the second film of the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

“I’m thrilled that the Extended Edition will give fans the opportunity to experience certain key scenes in the film as they were originally shot, as well as an abundance of special features,” said Jackson. “It’s exciting to present this expanded and enriched version of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ to allow fans to fully immerse themselves in the movie, before seeing the second part of the trilogy.” 
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition will be available as a 5-disc Blu-ray 3D set ($54.98 SRP) that features the Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray versions of the Extended Edition; a 3-disc Blu-ray ($35.99) and a 5-disc DVD ($34.99) The Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD all include UltraVioletTM which allows consumers to download and instantly stream the Extended Edition in high definition to a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players.* 
The nearly nine hours of new special features boasts audio commentary with Peter Jackson, director/producer/screenwriter, and Philippa Boyens, co-producer/screenwriter, and “The Appendices,” a multi-part documentary focusing on various aspects of the film and the Trilogy. Complete special feature details are provided below.
The first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was nominated for three Academy Awards®1.

SYNOPSIS

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first in Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer.
Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the Goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum.
Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him; he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.
The screenplay for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), Present a WingNut Films Production, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. All three films in The Hobbit Trilogy, also including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and the final film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures handled worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution handled by MGM.

ALL-NEW SPECIAL FEATURES ON BLU-RAY 3D, BLU-RAY AND DVD:

Commentary with Peter Jackson, Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Philippa Boyens, Co-Producer/Screenwriter
The Appendices – A multi-part chronological history of the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, covering pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the boot camp training for the main cast, the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects.
New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition
Street Date: November 5, 2013
Order Due Date: October 1, 2013
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 184 mins.
Blu-ray 3D: $54.98 SRP
Blu-ray: $35.99 SRP
DVD: $34.99 SRP

Note: All enhanced content listed above is subject to change.

Blu-ray Disc™ and Blu-ray™ and the logos are the trademarks of Blu-ray Disc Association.
Warner Home Video Blu-ray Discs offer resolution six times higher than standard definition DVDs, as well as extraordinarily vibrant contrast and color and beautifully crisp sound. The format also provides a higher level of interactivity, with instant access to extra features via a seamless menu bar where viewers can enjoy features without leaving or interrupting the film.

ULTRAVIOLET

*UltraViolet allows you to collect watch and share movies and TV shows in a whole new way.  Available with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs, DVDs and Digital Downloads, UltraViolet lets you create a digital collection of movies and TV shows.  Services such as Flixster and VUDU allow you to instantly stream and download UltraViolet content across a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players.  Restrictions and limitations apply.  Go to www.ultraviolet.flixster.com/info for details.  For more information on compatible devices go to wb.com/ultravioletdevices.


About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees, as well as directly to consumers through WBShop.com and WB Ultra.

About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and distribution of film and television content globally.  The company owns one of the world’s deepest libraries of premium film and television content.  In addition, MGM has investments in domestic and international television channels. For more information, visit www.mgm.com

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVD/Blu-Ray, DVDs, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

TORn ‘4th of July’ Exclusive: Interview With Miriam Stockley

MiriamStockley

Man sí minna? Man ammen toltha i dann hen Amarth?
I anann darthant dam morn, si dannatha.

A little more than a decade ago, these very words drew us into the world of Middle-earth even as a woman in her deep voice began narrating the tale of its history with the unforgettable words “The world has changed. I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air…

Voiced by Miriam Stockley, a vocalist hailing from Johannesburg, South Africa, the text entitled “The Footsteps Of Doom” speaks to the theme of Galadriel facing her ultimate temptation and her choice that would determine the eventual fate of Lothlórien, and Middle-earth:

Who enters here? Who brings to us this token of Doom?
That which has stood so long against the darkness will now fall.

 

Join us in this exclusive interview with Miriam as she takes us back to the year 2001 to talk about her time recording with The London Voice on the score for The Lord of the Rings. (more…)
Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Howard Shore, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Music, Philippa Boyens, soundtrack

Confirmed: ‘Hobbit’ filming resumes Monday

Peter Jackson talks to Graham McTavish while Martin Freeman, dressed as Bilbo Baggins, looks on.

Peter Jackson talks to Graham McTavish while Martin Freeman, dressed as Bilbo Baggins, looks on.

There have been a smattering of reports about when filming (actually there is no film, it is all digital these days) resumes for this set of pick-ups on “The Hobbit.” TheOneRing.net can confirm (from the very best of sources) that work starts Monday, May 20 in Wellington. Everybody seems to know that a chunk of the work to be done is for the Battle of Five Armies but it seems likely there are other things to be done as well. Often, in the editing room, where all the shooting comes together and the movie transforms from a plan into a finished product, the director (Peter Jackson in this case) or perhaps one of the screen writers (Philippa Boyens or Fran Walsh) wants something extra to flesh out a scene or a character. No details of this have been provided for this film, but that is the way movie making works. Lots of actors have reported through social media that they are returning and we know this block of filming has always been in the plans. Estimates are that up to 10 weeks of work remain to be done with bits for both “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.” It seems likely that most of the principal cast will return for the segment, although not all are specifically confirmed.

Benedict Cumberbatch in the Star Trek franchise.

Benedict Cumberbatch in the Star Trek franchise.

Meanwhile some Hobbit actors have big movies in theaters now. Benedict Cumberbatch joins the space crew in “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” this weekend while Luke Evans hops into the Fast and Furious franchise. Both are expected to be significant money makers for Hollywood and will raise the profile of both actors before they his screens in Middle-earth in December. Cumberbatch voices the highly anticipated dragon Smaug while Evans plays the enigmatic Bard The Bowman. Casting calls for those living and legally working in New Zealand have already gone out and actors, such as Adam Brown (see below) on our own weekly TORn Tuesday show talked about his return to New Zealand. It is not believed that Andy Serkis, second unit director, will not return to set which means shooting will likely be a one-unit production. More details as and when they become available.

Posted in Adam Brown, Benedict Cumberbatch, Characters, Director news, Fran Walsh, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, The Hobbit

Our Own Documentary RINGERS: Lord of the Fans Now on iTunes!

finalopeningtitleIn 2005 we premiered our very own documentary feature film RINGERS: Lord of the Fans at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, where  it was quickly snapped up by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for worldwide distribution on DVD and cable! It is finally available on iTunes after 7 years of hopeful waiting… you can also find it on Amazon Instant and on VUDU.

What a fun movie! Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc Brandybuck) came on board to be our wonderful narrator! Actually this film is a time capsule of many decades of pop culture history — giving us the full story on how the world has embraced Tolkien’s masterpiece THE LORD OF THE RINGS over 50 years and more!

Winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival, RINGERS was produced in association with TheOneRing.net — this remarkable little film was forged BY fans and FOR fans, just like our website, with the production/writing talent of Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway (who hosts TORn TUESDAY every week), Jeff Marchelletta, and supercool director Carlene Cordova. It was executive produced by X-Men/Transformers guru Tom DeSanto.

With a wonderful rock-driven score and detailing all the outpouring of love bestowed on Tolkien over many generations, this film is a must-have for your digital collection! Get it on iTunes now for only $9.99!

From the original Sony Press Release:

RINGERS is comprehensive, entertaining and informative pop culture history.”
The Toronto Star

 

“…Will always be a salient part of ‘LORD OF THE RINGS’ history…
See it, absorb it, love it.”
FilmThreat

 

RINGERSonesheetWinner of “Outstanding Achievement” Award at the
Newport Beach Film Festival

 

RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS

 

FASCINATING DOCUMENTARY CAPTURES THE HISTORY, INFLUENCE AND PHENOMENON THAT IS LORD OF THE RINGS

 

CULVER CITY, Calif. (September 12, 2005) – Sony invites you to return to the Shire with the release of the feature-length documentary RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS, direct to DVD.  In association with the popular fan-site TheOneRing.net, Carlene Cordova produced, directed and wrote this award-winning film with executive producer Tom DeSanto(X-Men, X2: X-Men United and Transformers), which charts the incredible influence and ripple-effect that Lord of the Rings has had on worldwide pop culture over the past five decades.  Whether you are a fan or first timer, critics agree, RINGERS, stands as the most comprehensive film documenting the ongoing impact of J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary achievement.

Dominic Monaghan (star of ABC’s Lost and the Academy Award® winning Lord of the Rings trilogy) narrates the documentary as it looks behind the curtain between Lord of the Rings and how it inspired so many artists of different mediums.  The film moves beyond “cult classic” and through different generations unearthing the way legendary rock musicians, filmmakers, professors, actors and authors all unite under the banner of ‘Ringer.’  Interviewees included in the film are Lord of the Rings trilogy filmmaker Peter Jackson as well as Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin and David Carradine.  Infused with a dynamic rock-driven score, irreverent cut-out animation (á la Terry Gilliam), and a centerpiece audience sing-a-long, RINGERS is a genre-busting documentary that shows how a single literary work continues to spark the minds and hearts of millions.

RINGERS continues the momentum of the motion picture trilogy Lord of the Rings, a winner of 17 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Peter Jackson, who made history as the first person to direct three major feature films simultaneously. 

 

From the official synopsis:

 

Ringers: Lord of the Fans is a feature-length documentary that reveals the ongoing cultural phenomenon created by The Lord of the Rings.  Very funny and often moving, Ringers shows the hidden power behind Tolkien’s books — and how after 50 years a single literary work continues to spark the minds and hearts of millions, across cultures and across time.

 

6919cliffsalamorganShot with groundbreaking new digital technology in 24P, Ringers explores the real foundations of Middle-earth; a community of true fans who share a common bond.  Moving beyond “cult classic” and over several different generations, the film unearths academics, musicians, authors, filmmakers, and a plethora of pop junkies — the people gathered under the banner of ‘Ringer.’  From the hippie counter-culture to the electronic age; from the Bakshi animated film to Jackson’s epic trilogy; this documentary brings together extensive footage from across the globe.  With units in Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Bonn, Germany, Wellington, New Zealand, and Oxford, England, our cameras capture the most fascinating “Ringers” and Lord of the Rings events.

 

What began as the private amusement of a tweedy Oxford professor has now become a new mythology for the 21st century. Ringers: Lord of the Fans shows how an adventure story published in 1954 has had dynamic ripple-effects through Western pop-culture.  Ringers carefully pulls away the veil between Tolkien’s book and the creations of art, music, and community that have been inspired by it.

 

Check out the official trailer here:

Posted in Andy Serkis, Barrie Osborne, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, DVDs, Elijah Wood, Fans, Headlines, Ian McKellen, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Noble, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Media Reviews, Merchandise, Miscellaneous, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, New Zealand, Orlando Bloom, Other Merchandise, Other Tolkien books, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Sean Astin, TheOneRing.net Announcements, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien, Viggo Mortensen

Popcorn Taxis Hobbit Q&A with Richard Armitage

To celebrate the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Australia on May 1st, Popcorn Taxi had a special showing of the film with a Q&A session with Richard Armitage.  RingerSpy and long time message board member, Deleece Cook aka Elven, was lucky enough to attend and sent us the following report on the night.

(more…)

Posted in Benedict Cumberbatch, Cast Q&A, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Director news, DVD/Blu-Ray, Elijah Wood, Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, John Howe, Martin Freeman, Mikael Persbrandt, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Press Conferences, Richard Armitage, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit and Gandalf’s backstory

Philippa Boyens. Photo: KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

Philippa Boyens. Photo: KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

At the New York Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Vulture spoke to Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson about the absence of Gandalf’s backstory from the film. In particular, they delved into why there’s no insight into why Gandalf assists the Dwarf company, and how he obtained the map and key of Thrain. Read on below the cut for some spoilery answers that hint at what we can anticipate for The Desolation of Smaug. (more…)

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, The Hobbit

In their own words: Peter, Philippa & Joe

Last week the filmmakers and cast of The Hobbit took over the Waldorf Astoria in New York to talk about the much-expected film. For your enjoyment, here is a selection of questions and answers from the conversation with Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri.[Portuguese Translation]

 

On casting Martin Freeman:

Peter Jackson: Martin was the only person we ever wanted for that role. And that was before we ever really met Martin – we knew him from “The Office” and “Hitchhikers Guide” and we just felt he had qualities that would be perfect for Bilbo. That essential kind of fussy, English, slightly repressed quality. He’s a dramatic actor, he’s not a comedian, but he’s a dramatic actor who has a very rare comedic skill.

… With the delays that happened, we couldn’t offer the role to anybody contractually. And by the time we were able to offer Martin the role, he had committed to the “Sherlock” TV series. And he shot the first season, but the second season of “Sherlock” was going to fall right into the middle of our shoot so he said “Listen, I can’t do it.” So we were in trouble. I was really panicking, we all were. … We literally couldn’t think of anyone else we thought would be as good as Martin.

I was having sleepless nights. We were probably about six weeks away from the beginning of the shoot and still hadn’t settled on anyone else. I was tormenting myself by watching “Sherlock” on an iPad at 4 o’clock in the morning. The second episode of the first season had just come out in iTunes and I downloaded it – because I love the show – and I was sitting there looking at Martin and thinking “there is nobody better, this is insane.” When I got up that morning I called Martin’s agent in London and I asked if we could find a way to accommodate Martin’s schedule would Martin be prepared to still come down to New Zealand to do Bilbo? And fortunately the answer was yes, he’d love that.

 

On the reasoning behind three movies:

Philippa: If we hadn’t made the “Lord of the Rings first, if this wasn’t set against that, this probably would have been a very different story. But we had. The Gandalf turning up in these films was the Gandalf portrayed in “Lord of the Rings,” but if we wanted to tell that part of Gandalf’s story, we got to bring in people as Saruman and the brilliant Cate Blanchett coming back as Galadriel.

So, as soon as we knew we would tell that part of the tale, what happens when Gandalf disappears – because we know what happens when Gandalf disappears because Professor Tolkien kept writing the Hobbit – and we made that decision to tell that part of the tale, you start to draw in that bigger mythology that this is set against.

Also, when we began to go in there… it’s so easy to forget the depth that is in the story telling and how dark this children’s book turns at the end. It doesn’t end with Smaug, when it should end, when any normal children’s story ends, and kids love it. I know I loved it when I read it, because it was unusual, it took you further.

There were strong elements of tragedy in there, revolving around a particular character, Thorin. They’re extraordinary and when you go into the appendices you realize how extraordinary and what has been placed on him.

It wasn’t hard to see what’s in there. One of the things that’s in there is greed. So as soon as you start taking on the notion of “how much wealth is too much wealth?” and “how much gold is too much gold? “ Something that is literally a sickness of the mind, a sickness of too much wealth.

The other thing is, you start to work with great actors, and great actors come to you because of the material. If you give them slight material you’re just not going to get them and we wanted to write for some of these incredible actors that we had.


On the lack of female characters in “The Hobbit”:

Philippa: You do feel the weight of it, the lack of feminine energy. And it’s interesting because Professor Tolkien actually wrote brilliantly for women. He had a real respect for women. The most powerful being in Middle Earth at this time as he wrote was Galadriel. And so, we have her story as it develops, as he wrote it. It informs “The Hobbit” – it’s actually quite powerful and it’s going to get good for the girls, I think.

 

On the addition of Galadriel and material from the appendices:

Peter: It goes back to the appendices. We can adapt “The Hobbit” and we can take these appendices, which appear in “Return of the King,” which has material I think he was developing as an expanded version of “The Hobbit.”

He wrote “The Hobbit” in 1937 and then the “Lord of the Rings” came out in the 1950s – which was supposedly supposed to be a sequel to “The Hobbit” but obviously developed and expanded into something much much more apocalyptic and the tone was different.

So I think he was intending to go back and revise “The Hobbit” or write a companion novel that was going to sort of tie it all together. He never did publish that book or even finish it, but a lot of the material his son published in the back of “Return of the King.”

So they talk about the White Council and the Necromancer, and she’s part of the White Council and they refer to the attack on Dol Guldur, and it’s that type of plot that we’re developing. So, it’s still part of the Tolkien myth.

 

On reality and fantasy films:

Peter: The levels of detail in the movie are similar to “Lord of the Rings.” With the high definition cameras you see more, so you may have the sense of more detail but fortunately the team that we have in New Zealand, WETA Workshop, who design a lot of the makeup and effects, and our wardrobe department, our art department – we’ve always wanted to put a lot of detail, and a lot of details that never get seen by the cameras.

To me, fantasy should be as real as possible. I don’t subscribe to the notion that because it’s fantastical it should be unrealistic. I think you have to have a sense of belief in the world that you’re going into, and the levels of detail are very important.

 

On why he originally chose not to direct, but then stepping back into role:

Peter: I guess I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it is the truth, because I thought I would be competing against myself to some degree ,and that it would be interesting to have another director. …. Guillermo Del Toro was involved for a while, for over a year probably, but after he left because of the delays, it was still another six months or so before we had a green light and during that length of time I just thought, well I am actually enjoying this a lot more.

I came to realize there’s a lot of charm and humor in “The Hobbit” that the “Lord of the Rings” didn’t have. And I thought that returning to Middle Earth with a entirely different story and a different tone – I thought “this is not the Lord of the Rings” and I’m not going to try to make another film that’s exactly like that. This gives me an opportunity to do something a little different. … and the first day of shooting I was incredibly happy I was there. It was a great deal of fun to shoot.

 

On added or expanded scenes:

Peter: Well, one expanded, the stone giants – that’s like a paragraph in the book when they’re going through the Misty Mountains and Tolkien refers to a thunderstorm created by this fight between giants. He doesn’t really dwell on it particularly, so those sorts of things were fun, a visual scene out of the book that we could develop and expand on. So, we did sort of expand it … the Goblin tunnels?

Philippa: I love Azog, Azog the Defiler. Because we just loved that name and he is a character that we just loved that back story and thought we can’t have him be dead, we’re going to keep him alive. So we enjoyed that… bringing him back. And I think we do that quite powerfully, he’s got a good journey to go on.

 

On making connections between “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”

Peter: This is what made the film enjoyable for me, being able to connect little pieces from “Lord of the Rings” to “The Hobbit.” There was a scene in the “Fellowship of the Ring” when they’re stuck in the crossroads in Moria, and there’s a quiet moment between Gandalf and Frodo… and he’s talking about the events in “The Hobbit,” that the pity of Bilbo rules the fate of us all. Meaning that Bilbo had a chance to kill Gollum but he didn’t. And the fact that he didn’t is now directing the story, it’s now created the story of the “Lord of the Rings” – for good or for bad. So it was really interesting to twelve years after we shot that scene originally to come back and actually show the moment where Bilbo stays his hand.

And also, the reason why he doesn’t kill Gollum at that stage when he’s got the opportunity, when he’s invisible and standing over Gollum … and Gandalf had said to him that true courage is deciding when not to kill rather than to kill.

So, completing those little loops and circles was one of the really interesting things whilst you’re dealing with a different story, a different tone. And if we had shot the films in a different order, we might not have been able to do that as effectively. Because really, once these movies are done and have had their theatrical life, we’re really looking at a six movie set – which is the way it will exist from that point on. And so I’m very conscious and wanting to make it feel like an organic story with synergy.

It wouldn’t have been that easy if we’d shot “The Hobbit” first, because it is such a different tone of a book. We might have just leapt into that much more fairy-tale tone, which would have made the “Lord of the Rings” a much more difficult adaptation in a way, because it would have been hard for the two to talk to each other.

 

On the shift in Thorin’s character from bombastic to warrior, and the casting of Richard Armitage:

Philippa: That’s really simple actually. When we were writing it we understood – writing backwards – how much the audience needs to care about this character. In a way it’s almost his story – a lot of it is his story. When we were tackling this character – because he’s much older in the book – it becomes very hard to invest in a character that you want to reclaim a homeland and rebuild a city when he’s in his eighties.

So when we were looking, when we began the casting process, we were looking between 45, 55. Someone who had life left in him, who could be that heroic character, who could be a great fighter. Again, harder to do with a character who, as Professor Tolkien wrote him, was an old warrior.

So we made that decision that we were going to go younger, and then from that point in terms of Richard Armitage, he was the youngest actor to audition for that role. It had nothing to do with the fact that he is gorgeous (laughs), it had to do with the fact that he did a phenomenal audition and the notion that you had this dark conflicted character, but was also quite grunty, Northern, English – like a dwarf. Strangely enough, he’s six foot four, but he’s still a dwarf. He had that whole thing of being miner, of that grittiness, gruntiness, but who probably plays a good game of rugby, which felt as Professor Tolkien described the dwarves.

 

On 3D and the approach to visual effects and directing

Peter: It didn’t change my style of directing, I didn’t want it to. And that was the beauty. I didn’t want to convert it, we wanted to shoot it in 3D. I think that is much more realistic. Fortunately we had great support from the companies who worked with us (on the cameras and rigs) and they made the equipment as light and as small as they possibly could. The rigs were originally made in steel, yet they made them for us out of carbon fiber so that we could put them on steady cams and use hand held cameras. Because I really wanted to be the same filmmaker going back into Middle Earth. I didn’t want to, because it was 3D, to shoot it in a different style.

I don’t believe in the concept that 3D should be shot differently. Every director has his own style, sure, but I don’t think that any of that is an issue with 3D. For me it was important to not even worry about 3D and I didn’t, I didn’t even think about it half the time. I was just directing as I would normally do and the cameras could do what they normally do. For me it was a comfortable experience.

Joe: There’s one case where it did matter, though. Back with the “Lord of the Rings,” we could do force-perspective tricks – bring Gandalf closer to the camera and put Frodo farther away, and one could look bigger and one could look smaller. When you put the glasses on you realize how far apart they are, that trick no longer works.

So we came up with this idea – especially because we wanted to keep the cameras moving – to actually synchronize two cameras together on two separate stages. So Gandalf was on one stage, the dwarves on another stage and Peter can see them both in his monitor together and direct both of them. But they both had to keep in their heads where the other virtual person was going to be that was wandering through Bag End.

You’ll see in the film, if you haven’t seen already, that there’s a minute-long shot of them walking through each other and handing things off – that was all done by the actors for the large part, just having to keep in their heads where each other was in this very cool space.

 

On converting “Lord of the Rings” to 3D

Peter: It’s not really a question for me because it’s a studio issue because they would have to pay for it and it’s expensive. So, I’d be happy to do it if they decide, but that’s really a marketplace thing. I think the whole idea of dimensioning older films is something that the studios are still unsure of. I know that Jim did it on “Titanic’ and it was very successful, and then George Lucas did it with “Star Wars” and it was not so successful financially.

So, I think the studios are not quite sure at the moment where that market is going to finally land. I guess as time goes on and 3D establishes itself more in people’s homes and the cost of conversion comes down, I think things have to move on but at the moment it’s not being discussed.

Posted in Events, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, Joe Letteri, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Press Conferences, The Hobbit

Jackson and McKellen defend trilogy decision

How did Peter Jackson turn one small book into another massive film trilogy? Simple: all it took was some imagination and a bit of help from the author of The Hobbit himself.

The director has taken heat for turning what was intended to be a two-part prequel to his Lord of the Rings series into a three-part saga, especially given that the first Hobbit film clocks in at nearly three hours. Unlike the LOTR books, The Hobbit is a thin volume written for children, leading some to accuse him of stretching out narrative and milking the franchise. Instead, Jackson contends that the brevity of the book actually helped make it possible.

“The book is written in a very brisk pace, so pretty major events in the story are covered in only two or three pages,” Jackson told reporters on Wednesday. “So once you start to develop the scenes and plus you wanted to do a little bit more character development, plus the fact that we could also adapt the appendices of Return of the King, which is 100-odd pages of material that sort of takes place around the time of The Hobbit, so we wanted to expand the story of The Hobbit a little bit more, as did Tolkien himself. So all those factors combined gave us the material to do it.”

The appendices, which were tacked onto the final book of the Lord of the Rings series, fill in many blanks that were left in The Hobbit, which co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens pointed out.

“If we hadn’t done The Lord of the Rings, we wouldn’t have had done this. But we did,” she said. “We know where Gandalf was. So as soon as we knew we were going to that part of the tale, what happens in those years, because we knows what happens because Tolkien kept writing, you start to draw in and make a mythology.”

Series newcomer Richard Armitage, who plays the lead dwarf Thorin, chalked it up to the entire saga’s deep subtext.

[Read More]

Posted in Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, The Hobbit