The Hobbit Countdown runs every other week and geeks out on all things related to Peter Jackson's upcoming trilogy based on The Hobbit.
How did you celebrate Hobbit Week? With a mushroom fry? Maybe you didn’t know last week was designated to celebrate the birthdays of fictional characters Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. What you may have noticed however was a brand spankin’ new trailer from director Peter Jackson and company that serves as the first real official declaration of what we can expect from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The trailer, attached to Dredd 3D (among other releases), is a broad look at what to expect from the first of three Jackson Hobbit movies. He starts off with Ian McKellen as Gandalf telling us right up front what the stakes of the film are while providing the best possible free commercial for New Zealand but just in case you haven’t seen it:
If you visit www.thehobbit.com, the trailer comes with four additional endings, providing a different closing humor insert including bits from Bilbo, Gandalf, Sting (the sword) and Gollum to go along with the embedded dwarves ending. Watch them all below.
“Far to the east lies a single, solitary peak.The dwarves are determined to regain their homeland,” the universally familiar Gandalf says to us. The wizard is alerting the less rabid audience members just what the central conflict of the film is. The trailer also fills us with reassurances that we will find the film familiar. Agent Elrond (Hugo Weaving) is back, as dictated by the book along with other wise ones of Middle-earth like Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) in an invented inclusion.
But perhaps the most interesting portion of the new commercial comes in the form of one Radagast the Brown. Team Jackson have expanded the role significantly from the one-line mention he gets in the source material.
The public is finally treated to the nature-loving wizard’s bunny sled, the topic of much debate since footage of it first aired for theater owners at the Cinema Con conference where Jackson and Warners Bros. tried to impress the group with the film’s frame rate, shot at double the speed of other films. The display’s success might have been in doubt, but the new wizard, played by Sylvester McCoy of Dr. Who fame, definitely merited plenty of attention.
Looking slightly disheveled and clearly playing to the character’s nature-loving roots, we are treated to his attempts to help an adorable hedgehog and then, if you look carefully, an attack from a spider on his environmentally friendly home known as Rhosgobel.
Conspicuously missing was any sight of elven warrior princess Tauriel. Invented by Team Jackson, the character introduces Evangeline Lilly of Lost fame to Middle-earth. When Jackson expanded his announced two Hobbit films to three a few weeks after Comic-Con, the cut-off point of the first film changed, resulting in a first film that covers only a handful of chapters from the book. This probably means Tauriel and her associate Legolas (Orlando Bloom) will not appear until the second film.
Funny enough, the first glimpse of Lilly as Tauriel also reached the public when a handful of toys hit market prematurely. Tauriel and Legolas are included in that initial wave of promotional tie-in items. Either the characters have made the cut and are in the first film (unlikely) or the toys were already produced and heading to market when Jackson expanded his vision to a cinematic trilogy, perhaps making them extra collectible. She appears to be a brown-haired elf in Jackson’s Middle-earth, quite different from characters who share her elven blood, the platinum Legolas and Galadriel and black-haired Elrond and Arwen (Liv Tyler) from The Lord of the Rings.
The figures are on sale at some Toys-R-Us stores now with an expected wide release date of October 1. In fact, expect the merchandising floodgates to open next week.
Established in 1978 by the American Tolkien Society, along with Hobbit Day, always celebrated on the 22nd of September, Tolkien Week received a lot of extra publicity this year. Part of that was due to the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the publication date of the book on September 21. Book publishers promoted the events with a little extra zeal and film studios kicked in a little publicity as well.
LA Weekly devoted space to a rundown of TheOneRing.net’s annual festivities near Hollywood but groups around the U.S. and world all enjoyed festivities on the grassroots level. If December’s film is as successful as projected, Tolkien Week in 2013 will be fueled by anticipation for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in December next year.
Larry D. Curtis, as part of the team at TheOneRing.net, has been comprehensively covering the works and adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien for more than a decade, making the not-for-profit site the leading source about The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings for fans and film makers worldwide. Curtis represents the site at conventions and events around the U.S. including the San Diego Comic-Con. You can read his The Hobbit Countdown here at Movies.com every other week.