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.
The three films tell a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company continues East, encountering along the way the skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all — a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself — the Dragon Smaug.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. The film also stars (in alphabetical order) John Bell, Manu Bennett, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Lawrence Makoare, Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Mikael Persbrandt, and Aidan Turner.
The screenplay for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” 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 Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.
The creative behind-the-scenes team is led by director of photography Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah, conceptual designers Alan Lee and John Howe, editor Jabez Olssen, and hair and makeup designer Peter Swords King. The costumes are designed by Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor. Taylor is also overseeing the design and production of armour, weapons, creatures and special makeup, which are once again being made by the award-winning Weta Workshop. Weta Digital is taking on the visual effects for the film, led by senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri. The visual effects supervisor is Eric Saindon, with David Clayton and Eric Reynolds serving as animation supervisors. The music is by Howard Shore.
Under Jackson’s direction, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” was shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second and will be released in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D) in select theaters, other 2D and 3D formats, and IMAX®. Production took place at Jackson’s own facilities in Miramar, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand. Post production took place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.
New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a WingNut Films Production, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. The film opens nationwide on December 13, 2013. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.
Some quick spoiler analysis
Highlight below to read.
The most obvious cast omissions are Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee and Hugo Weaving. Stephen Fry is also not listed, but I can’t think of that as anything but an inadvertent oversight. I know, it is a flaw in what I’ve written below.
Anyway, just last month, Blanchett seemed to indicate uncertainty about whether she would have any scenes in The Desolation of Smaug. This seems to be a clincher — the absence of the Aussie star from this list almost certainly means the answer is no.
For comparison, here’s the cast credits list from the presser for An Unexpected Journey:
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. Also reprising their roles from “The Lord of the Rings” in “The Hobbit” Trilogy are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The international ensemble cast of the trilogy also includes (in alphabetical order) Manu Bennett, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott and Aidan Turner.
The absence of Blanchett, Lee and Weaving would mean no new White Council scenes in DOS, no decision to attack Dol Guldur, and certainly no attack on the fortress itself. Thus one concludes that Gandalf will spend the bulk of his time searching for the source of the evil that is corrupting Mirkwood — first in the High Fells, and then in the ruins of Dol Guldur itself. If that’s the case culmination of Gandalf’s scenes may be some dramatic confrontation not with just the Witch-king, but with the re-forming spirit of Sauron — the Dark Lord himself.
All very speculative, I know! What do TORn’s readers think?