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July 15, 2012

The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey Comic-Con Preview


The Hobbit director Peter Jackson brought exclusive footage of his new movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  to this year's Comic Con.  
Jackson came onstage holding up his phone to record the audience and announced that he was filming what would become part of another video blog for fans that couldn’t make it to Comic-Con.  Also there was co-writer Phillipa Boyens (she also co-wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy with Jackson and Fran Walsh), and then ran a few clips ran that featured footage from both movies.   
  • The opening clip had Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves all together at Bag End arguing over how to go about reclaiming what is theirs from the dragon Smaug.  There was a great deal of humor sprinkled throughout, with Freeman getting the biggest laughs for his reluctance to join the dwarves on their journey.
  • Another scene showed Gandalf getting into the action with his sword/staff combo, followed later by a lower energy—but no less exciting—scene between Gandalf and Galadriel (played by Cate Blanchette).  It’s a sweet and touching scene between the two, with Galadriel acting as a reassuring presence for Gandalf.
  • We then saw a scene between Gandalf and Bilbo with the former telling Bilbo that he’s changed and isn’t the same person that left The Shire.  Bilbo handles The Ring in his pocket while trying to decide if he should tell Gandalf about it, before simply saying that he “found courage.”
  • The last sequence was a montage of great-looking action scenes (likely from the second film) that showed the trolls, a quick look at Evangeline Lilly’s character, and a fantastic shot of Orlando Bloom as Legolas drawing an arrow and aiming at the group of dwarves.  Cue crowd going wild.
 Elijah Wood came out as a “surprise” guest, but he was already at the Con forWilfred so I assumed he’d be on this panel as well.
  • Composer Howard Shore starts recording with the London Philharmonic in 5-6 weeks.
  • They created a character called Tauriel played by Evangeline Lilly so they could bring more feminine energy into the film.  Boyens said they believe it’s completely in the spirit of Tolkein’s books, and Lilly was adamant that they stay true to Tolkein’s vision.
  • Freeman said he couldn’t complain much about the Hobbit feet because he was surrounded by people covered in prosthetics for dwarf makeup.
  • When asked how this film will compare to the eventual Extended Edition of The Hobbit, Jackson said that they never film scenes specifically for an Extended Edition cut; it happens as a result of editing.
  • Serkis was only supposed to come back for two weeks to play Gollum, then a month before he was to go to New Zealand, Fran Walsh emailed him to ask if he’d like to come down for a year and a half to direct second-unit.
  • They filmed the scene between Gollum and Bilbo first.  Shooting on the scene lasted two weeks so it could feel like a theater piece with Serkis and Freeman playing off of each other.  Judging by the footage, this extra time paid off in spades.
  • Hardwick asked Serkis if he could do the Gollum voice, to which Serkis responded in his Gollum voice, “For fucks sake!” followed by, “You said you weren’t gonna whore yourself out!”
The panel ended and as the talent walked off the stage, Hall H got out of their seats to give The Hobbit panel a standing ovation.   
The advances in technology make Gollum even more impressive, but it’s Serkis’ motion-capture performance that really makes the character shine.  Freeman plays Bilbo spot-on with reluctance and humbleness, and it’s simply great to see McKellan back as Gandalf.  I think fans will be incredibly happy to return to Middle Earth, and I’m eager to see what new material Jackson, Boyens and Walsh have used to flesh out the story into two films.
Peter Jackson said that told there will be more foootage shot with the possibliity of it turning into three movies. 
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