Frankly, we hoped this story would die a quiet death because it is simply not credible. However, a couple of web media outlets have picked it up so somewhat reluctantly here we are quashing a rumour that simply has no credence at all.
Seeing as this is obviously leading us into spoiler territory, if you are avoiding them or have not read the book (I know there are a few of you out there), then look away now.
The original source of this rumour is a website called Ecumenical News (I know it has subsequently popped up on The Examiner too), which posted the following:
…a few details have surfaced regarding the story line of The Battle of Five Armies. It has been reported that the film will follow Tolkien’s book, though one character who died in the book, Thorin Oakenshield, will remain alive.
This rumour is patently untrue.
Why? We know for a certainty that Thorin’s death scene has been filmed — Richard Armitage himself inadvertently revealed it in a letter mid last year to a cancer survivor Samantha (aka Elvenbutterflies) who visited the set of The Hobbit as a special Make-A-Wish experience. This letter is also briefly discussed on the TORn forums here. Armitage also alluded to the scene in one of his interviews with TORn:
GD: With all that you bring to Thorin, people — especially those who don’t know what’s coming — will be devastated in Film 3!
RA: If they haven’t read the book… I know. [with gleeful excitement] Oh it’s so good. I can’t even begin to tell you — it’s so good… The way that’s structured — I know we’re not supposed to talk about it, but it’s… at every level it surpassed my expectation.
This is without even beginning to point out the fact that the EN report is completely unsourced. EN states that “it has been reported…” but never links to the source, reveals its identity, or even alludes to who it might be. Not even so much as a “Sources within the production tell us…”.
It’s the same tale for every other rumour the article reports — no links, no sources.
Richard Armitage is actually the source of the speculation that The Battle of the Five Armies will be a shorter film. You can go here to listen to that interview.
The Smaug is a “killing machine” snippet comes from a short interview IGN conducted with WETA Digital Animation Supervisor Dave Clayton. You can check that out here.
And I can’t believe that anyone would be surprised about the news of Sauron’s return because, as-of The Desolation of Smaug, Sauron is back. And we can certainly expect a confrontation with The White council as Chris Lee confirmed in his 2013 Christmas video that his role in the final Hobbit film is his most substantial of the trilogy.
“There’s a lot of me in it, a lot,” said Lee of the film that opens Dec. 17, 2014.
He added that viewers can also expect to see “a tremendous amount of fighting, sword play, understanding, sympathy, kindness towards Galadriel, towards Gandalf. I’m not saying anymore because that would give the story away. But it’s the third film in which I have the most to do.”
And this Thorin Oakenshield rumour? It seems to emanate from an online petition calling for a change to the story to keep Thorin alive. Website Enstarz reported on the petition on May 20. (The EN article popped up on May 23. Astute readers will also observe the similarity of content, and draw their own conclusions.)
Following the rabbit hole of links about purported changes to Thorin’s fate leads you here where you will discover that it’s all a bit of a non-event.
But, say the writers did decide on such a change. It would require a bunch of pick-up shooting and that would involve Armitage and others making a trip to New Zealand.
But we know from production sources that no such pick-ups are occurring with principal cast members. Richard Armitage has done some ADR (additional dialogue recording) work (as has Adam Brown among others) for the third film — but no pick up filming.
Of course, it is remotely possible that Peter Jackson has decided to change it all by CGI, but it’s also remotely possible I might win the lotto this weekend.
Consider: Walsh, Boyens and Jackson are heavily invested in Thorin’s character. What are they drawn to? The fundamental tragedy of his arc. It’s why Thorin is so much more prominent in the film — they keep giving Armitage the good lines!
Richard Armitage, especially, as an actor, has an extraordinary trajectory. And what’s great about it is, you care about him. He has this grandeur and stature as a character, but then he disintegrates before your eyes – and it’s heart breaking. Then you become invested in him coming back. He’s got to be the Thorin we know and care about. But that’s the thing: does he?
Everyone (everyone!) raves about Thorin’s downward spiral into the third film. We’ve already seen some hints in the second. If you think they’re about to change the one thing from the novel that they’re genuinely excited about, you’ve got rocks in your head.
Demosthenes has been an incredibly nerdy staff member at TheOneRing.net since 2001. The views in this article are his own, and do not necessarily represent those of other TORn staff.