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Archive for the ‘John Howe’ Category

Birthdays of the week: John Howe, Alan Lee and Richard Armitage!

Happy birthday this week to John Howe and Richard Armitage! (more…)

Posted in Alan Lee, John Howe, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit

Weta’s Paul Tobin on dwarf design and the sublime skill of John Howe

Weta designer Paul Tobin

Weta designer Paul Tobin

TORn staffer Justin caught up with Weta conceptual designer Paul Tobin at the San Diego Comic-Con last month and scored this long, informative chat about the intense effort that went into the design of the dwarves of the Company, and about John Howe’s immense artistic talent.

As well as working on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy, Tobin has worked on James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) and Andrew Adamson’s The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008). (more…)

Posted in ComicCon, Conventions, Events, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, John Howe, Production, The Hobbit

Peter Jackson’s Beorn not yet convincing fans

Beorn. A portrait by John Howe.

Beorn. A portrait by John Howe.

The reader reaction to the low-resolution image of Beorn from the SD Toys 2014 Hobbit Calendar has been swift, visceral and fascinating.

Fact is that, while noting that people often tend to automatically respond negatively to change then rapidly adapt, the reader response has been largely unfavourable. Overall, people don’t seem to like Beorn.

It’s a reaction seemingly propelled by the crazy mane of hair that sweeps over Beorn’s head like a mohawk, and stretches down his back like a long, rangy mullet.

It’s prompted a wide-ranging variety of negative comparisons to Sonic the Hedgehog, Blanka, Joe Dirt, ’80s hair metal bands, David Bowie in Labyrinth and Beast from Beauty and the Beast. (more…)

Posted in Alan Lee, Fans, Green Books, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, John Howe, Mikael Persbrandt, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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.


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

PJ posts Sneak Peek Excerpt on YouTube

If you missed the Live Sneak Peek at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on March 24, and you can now access the archived version of the event at if you have an access code from purchasing one of several versions of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. But for those of you who have not yet had the opportunity to get your hands on a copy of the film (perhaps you’re holding out for the Extended Edition, or you are in a country that it hasn’t been released in yet), don’t despair! Peter Jackson has released an excerpt from the live event on YouTube. The 6-minute clip includes Peter answering several “fan” questions, including those from Stephen Colbert and Billy Boyd.

Peter Jackson says, “Warner Bros have kindly let me post a six-minute excerpt of the Live Event we did to preview The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, to give anyone who missed it a sense of what it was like.”

[Hobbit Sneak] [YouTube]

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVDs, Events, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, John Howe, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Other Events, Production, The Hobbit

‘Hobbit’ Dominates Blu-ray, DVD Charts

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEYFrom the Warner Home Video easily snagged the top spot on both national home video sales charts the week ending March 24 with New Line’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The fantasy flick, which earned $302.7 million in U.S. theaters and was directed by Lord of the Rings helmer Peter Jackson, easily outsold several other high-profile theatrical features that also bowed on disc the same week.


Demand was high for all three titles, but Hobbit was clearly the cream of the crop. Nielsen figures show Les Miserables sold just 33.8 percent as many units as Hobbit, while Zero Dark Thirty trailed with 21.4 percent. (To be fair, Les Mis came out on a Friday, so it didn’t have a full week of sales in the tracking period.)

[Read More] [The Hobbit Official Site]

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVDs, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, John Howe, LotR Books, Merchandise, Other Events, Production, The Hobbit

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Sneak Peek Archive Now Available!

desolation-of-smaugIf you missed the Peter Jackson hosted first look at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, or just want to watch it over again, a modified version is now available and archived on the Trilogy’s official website: To access the footage, use your UltraViolet code on your copy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack or 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. Please note, you will only be able to access the footage three times per code. So make good use of your opportunities! You will also notice the footage is now twenty minutes shorter than the live counterpart.  And of course, if you want to geek out a bit celebrating the teasing of Smaug (aka Peter’s Dragon) check out our latest T-Shirt in our Emporium! [Hobbit Sneak] [T-Shirt]

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVDs, Events, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, John Howe, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Other Events, Production, The Hobbit

Some things TORn staffers were excited to see in PJ’s ‘sneak peek’

desolation-of-smaugThis afternoon many of us spent an hour with Peter Jackson (well, virtually, anyway!) as he chatted about making The Hobbit movies, and gave us some tantalising glimpses of what may be to come in the second film, The Desolation of Smaug.  We’ve already posted some detailed commentary on what was shown; here below are some of the things which made TORn staffers geek out, as they watched their computer screens – and some speculation on what these things might mean!

Greendragon:  Of course I would be excited about something to do with a dragon!  It seemed to me that we saw Smaug’s ‘laser eyes’ in part of the footage – a scene was shown where Martin Freeman was playing around with putting the ring on, in Smaug’s lair.  The lighting was red, shining on a specific area and then moving across the pile of gold – suggesting the ‘piercing ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug’s left eye.’  It was nice to see this glimpse of the power of Smaug’s eyes – the danger of the dragon-spell!

Demosthenes: The actual extended scene we were shown from The Desolation of Smaug was of Gandalf and Radagast visiting the Nazgûl tombs. Okay, this has me excited because there’s a heap of spoiler analysis and guesswork that we can all play with. Who built the tombs? If they were built by the Dúnedain of Arnor (the selfsame Dúnedain who never make an appearance in the film of the Lord of the Rings, I might say!), then why does Radagast call the sigils on the walls foul? [In the clip, we see engraving on the walls above a door of a tomb, the bars of which have been wrenched or blasted open.]  Is that an implication that they were built by the Dúnedain of Rhudaur who fell into evil with the realm of Angmar? And what do the Tengwar letters — for they are a type of Tengwar — say? Do they bind? Do they nurture? Is it a transliteration to English? Or is it in Adûnaic, Quenya or Sindarin?

Why are they in the high fells (of Rhudaur)? What could have possibly prompted both Gandalf and Radagast to travel back over the Misty Mountains to investigate?  Lots of questions — lots of opportunity to guess stuff!  Moreover, I’m buzzed that Gandalf says there are NINE tombs. It’s what I guessed when I first saw this sequence last year, and I also felt that the bars indicated that whoever was in there broke out, and that there were letters over those doorways.

Rasputin the Evil Balrog: The boat scene got me excited [where we saw the dwarves, Bilbo and Bard on a boat, together with a collection of barrels], combined with what Peter had to say about the character of Bard being enigmatic – we don’t know if he’s good or bad. It reminded me of the way they chose to create Faramir’s character in The Two Towers, giving him much more depth and motivation than I feel he has in the books.  A lot of book purists disagree with me because they like the fact that Faramir is presented as the archetype of the ever-noble hero, but I thought the way they played him was much more modern and interesting.  I think we’re going to see something similar with Bard. In the book, he’s set in opposition to the debauched, corrupt master of Lake-town, but it seems like Peter is implying that we’ll get a few more twists and turns to our Bard story!

Legolas Deej:  In the various glimpses of scenes between Thranduil and his son Legolas, it was interesting to see that there might be a conflict between father and son regarding the way the dwarves are treated.   Although he’s not in the book, I had expected Legolas to go along with his father – it would explain why he and Gimli aren’t on friendly terms when the Fellowship is first formed.  Could this difference of opinion lead Legolas (and Tauriel?) to help the dwarves and Bilbo escape Mirkwood?

Grammaboodawg: To see Legolas with his father, Thranduil, is incredible! After years of imagining Legolas in Mirkwood and in a relationship with his father, this shot has had a profound impact on me. Like seeing the White Council… it’s exciting to have the imagined moments of this story finally becoming real.  Also, in one of the moments where we saw Bilbo in Smaug’s lair, there was an interesting glow at Bilbo’s right hand. Could it be the Arkenstone??

Kelvarhin: The thing I was most excited about was seeing the concept drawings of Mirkwood, by WETA artist Gus Hunter.  I’ve always envisaged it as being all twisted trees, dark and very menacing, and those images nailed it perfectly.  Can’t wait to see the finished images on the big screen.

Demosthenes: The beautiful concept artwork by John Howe which we were shown, for the entrance to Thranduil’s realm in Mirkwood,  is almost identical to Alan Lee’s painting of Menegroth – which can be seen here .  This is particularly cool because, for Tolkien, Menegroth was probably a template of sorts for the Halls of the Elven King as first described in The Hobbit.  I’m pretty sure that if you go back as far as the Book of Lost Tales there is some description of the halls of Tinwelint the elf/gnome king that has a similarity to The Hobbit — that bridge over the river particularly.

Kili: Glimpsing Tauriel was a pleasant surprise. She comes across as a panther whose mask of calm will shred at the slightest provocation. In comparison to fellow Elven warriors Legolas and Elrond, it was refreshing to see what a hot-blooded captain of the guard might be like. There is a lot of tension in the fandom surrounding her character, but if this glimpse is anything to go by, then she can stand proudly alongside Éowyn, Arwen, and Galadriel. Tolkien’s dearth of female characters is troublesome, and I applaud Jackson and his team for taking the risk of inventing a bold new character who not only feels authentic to her culture and circumstances, but whose ferocity will have a special resonance with her fellow woman warriors in the audience.

Quickbeam: I was completely surprised at how Peter Jackson himself appears so relaxed, playful, and at-ease. Notwithstanding all the visual surprises and exciting bits of sets/ characters/ and effects work we are treated to glimpsing, I am honestly more blown away at his casual confidence.  You must understand that P.J. is under tremendous amounts of pressure and a work-load that defies description. Yet there he is, making light jokes about Colbert’s coffee cups or showing us his favorite vintage movie one-sheets as if we, the live camera, were just old friends visiting on a relaxed weekend and he has all the leisure time in the world.  It’s a remarkable illusion, because he is the one man on Middle-earth who DOES NOT have leisure time or anything going “easy” for him — while juggling huge budgets, scheduling all the re-shoots, editing a movie with higher standards upon it than anything, yammering phone calls from the studio’s lawyers, incessant fans chirping and tweeting about the appropriateness of Azog, Tauriel, Nazgûl tombs, etc. etc. etc.  Imagine how delightful it is for us to see this creative powerhouse of a director just as cool as a cucumber. His light-hearted spirit shines through even though he carries a special burden… and that makes me VERY confident that he’s the Master of his own Destiny like no other filmmaker, and has a good handle on everything that needs doing.

And a final thought: I was surprised to NOT see our shape-shifting ursine friend, Beorn.  We see just one axe chopping a piece of wood outside Beorn’s Hall, and another shot of the Company of Dwarves running into his doorway (excellent sense of scale there between the Dwarves and Beorn’s furnishings)… but certainly no Mikael Persbrandt to be seen.   That’s curious, given the recent news stories confirming his role will be expanded in The Desolation of Smaug.  So we are treated to lots of Luke Evans as Bard, which is grand, but nothing of Beorn. We shall wait and see.

Garfeimao: Lake-town interests me, with the dichotomy of what appears to be close to a shanty town on the exterior, but has much richer interiors. Or maybe it’s just like that for the Master of the Lake-town and his home. Since Lake-town is on the water, the wooden buildings all have a decayed and somewhat tilting appearance to them. But the Master’s bedroom is very lush looking, with dark wood paneled floors, walls and ceilings, a four poster bed, a giant oil painting (of himself, no less) and lovely windows on both sides. And from one of the group shots of the citizens of the town, they are in dark clothing and do not appear to be richly dressed. Last year at San Diego Comic Con, the sneak peek included a scene with the Master running into a home, one I assume is his own, and throwing back a carpet and opening a trap door beneath to reveal a horde of treasure comprised of what appears to be brass, gold and silver pots, candlesticks, dishes and the like. It is clear he is wealthy, and somewhat miserly and actually has a rather smarmy, slimy appearance to him. The fact that his servant is rather Gríma like in appearance just adds to the rather distasteful vibe he gives off. I also found it interesting they decided to give Bard a bit of a duality to him as well, so that Bilbo and the dwarves are left wondering if they can trust anyone in Lake-town.

Oh, and can I get a shout out for the wicked cool War Moose-antlered Throne that Thranduil is lounging in when the Company of Dwarves, as prisoners, are brought into his Halls? The epitome of the rather haughty Elf described in the book, to be sure.

But what I most appreciated from this hour long glimpse into The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was the insight into Peter Jackson’s command of his mis-en-scène. This means his complete control of everything in front of the camera, from costumes and colors, hair and make up, set design and lighting to the angle of the cameras and the distance of the shot and the movement of the actors and props in frame. The example of the boat and the range of shots perfectly exemplifies how a storyteller can frame the action and use a variety of shots to tell the exact story they want because they truly have selected every frame you are seeing. Some of the quick sequences of shots shown at the very end only hint at the story to come, but it has intrigued me the way any good trailer grabs and audience.

Elessar: I was excited to see more of Mirkwood, Legolas, Thranduil, and Tauriel. Today’s event gave us plenty of that to look at, and while it wasn’t finished you can start to put that mental image together. I’ve had a mental image of what I thought Mirkwood looked like and what we saw felt like it was pulled directly from my brain! I loved seeing Legolas in action, and I love the look he has in this movie – mostly because it’s going to show the giant leap Legolas makes from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings. Seeing Thranduil in all his glory was fantastic, and I loved the scene of him getting in Thorin’s face, adding more to why Elves and Dwarves don’t like each other. Tauriel also looked awesome and I think I’m going to really like this character. A scene with her, Legolas, Thranduil, and an Orc looks like it will be really good. I did enjoy the Gandalf/Radagast sequence and am eager to see how the continued addition of this plot line runs. Mostly, I just loved spending an hour watching things to come. Is it December yet??

So much excitement – and we haven’t even seen a proper trailer yet!!

If you missed the Peter Jackson hosted first look at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, or just want to watch it over again, a modified version will be archived on the Trilogy’s official website: To access the footage, use your UltraViolet code on your copy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack or 2-Disc Special Edition DVD.

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVDs, Events, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie Rumors, John Howe, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Other Events, Production, The Hobbit

FINAL DAY for Special Alan Lee John Howe Charity eBay Auction

HoweLee_charityauctionpieceJohn Howe, legendary Tolkien artist and conceptual designer for THE HOBBIT and LOTR Trilogies, dropped us a note to remind us that today is the *final day* to bid on a very special piece of art that he and Alan Lee created in support of Robin’s Relief Fairy Tale Art Auction, a charity fundraiser where world-renowned fantasy artists have donated remarkable exclusive artworks to help raise hopes and raise funds for Robin Sullins’ new hands, new legs, and new life.

This artwork was created in New Zealand while the two artists were busy working on THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, but they took time out of their work schedules to craft something special for this fundraiser.

The story takes us back to the recent holidays, where Robin’s family had gathered for a long, pleasant Christmas meal that brought everyone together — but afterward, a small bite from an over-excited family dog would have strange and tragic consequences. Robin became infected with the Capnocytophaga bacteria, commonly found in cats and dogs but very rarely ever transmitted as an infection to a human, yet the devastation through her body ultimately caused the loss of both her legs and hands. More details on her courageous battle can be found here on the Robin’s Relief Fairy Tale Art Auction page.

Now, in an effort to bring light and hope to her medical struggle, world-famous fantasy artists such as Wendy Froud, Michael Parkes, Alan Lee & John Howe, Kinuko Craft and many others have donated EXCLUSIVE new artworks that will be offered on eBay through the month of March. All proceeds go directly to a Chase Bank account setup for Robin’s Relief Fund.

Unfortunately, eBay has been pursuing a policy of NOT ALLOWING the mention of a charity fundraiser anywhere on these auctions, and recently this amazing Lee/Howe original drawing of one of Tolkien’s elves discovering the most unlikely creature imaginable (at least in terms of Middle-earth) was taken down off the auction site and all the bids were lost! None to be restored… so now they have replaced the live auction and the artist greatly desires to bring some Ringers’ attention to it before it concludes later today. TODAY IS THE LAST DAY — the current bids are not as significant as they were before being taken down — SO PLEASE BID NOW — They are in the final hours of bidding on this item and every little bit helps.

Be sure to check out and bid on the auction here and find out more details on Robin’s brave struggle on their charity info site here.  You can also follow updates on her surgeries and recovery on her Facebook page here. Thank you so much.

Posted in Alan Lee, Artwork, Collectibles, Crew News, Fans, John Howe, Miscellaneous, Other Merchandise, Community

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 13-minute TV special!

Courtesy of Warner Bros Belgium, here is an amazing 13-minute look into The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It features behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and many, many other key cast and crew members where they discuss the inspiration for, and direction of, the story the first film reveals. Plus there’s plenty of new, previously unseen (at least by me!) sneak previews of what you’ll see on the big screen! So I guess I’ll add: spoilers! (more…)

Posted in Aidan Turner, Alan Lee, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Dean O'Gorman, Elijah Wood, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt, John Callen, John Howe, John Rawls, Ken Stott, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, Peter Hambleton, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Production, Richard Armitage, Richard Taylor, Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit

The amazing Middle-earth art of John Cockshaw

British artist John Cockshaw creates the most amazing artwork of the landscapes of Middle-earth using his imagination, and a love of landscapes and macro photography. spoke with John about the techniques and inspiration behind his moody and evocative pieces in this extended interview. (more…)

Posted in Alan Lee, Creations, Exhibits, Fans, John Howe, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies

Report: Alan Lee and John Howe at the Weta Cave

Ringer Maya sends us this report from today’s signing at the Weta Cave.

The queues were especially long this afternoon at Weta Cave. The cave is usually rather busy and packed with tourists, movie fans, Tolkien fans and other enthusiastic visitors, but today was exception even in busy times’ standards. Like many others, I too arrived at the cave today, my own wee elfling in tow, willing to brave the long queue especially to meet illustrator Alan Lee and to have him sign our copy of The Hobbit 2013 Official Calendar.

It was such a delight to find out that John Howe, the other major illustrator on the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies was there as well! (more…)

Posted in Alan Lee, Crew News, Events, Exhibits, Fans, John Howe