The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
An Unexpected Journey
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Jackson|
|Based on||The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien
|Music by||Howard Shore|
|Editing by||Jabez Olssen|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||169 minutes|
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a 2012 epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson. It is the first of a three-part film adaptation of the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, to be followed by The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again, due for theatrical release in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The three films together will act as prequels to Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
The story is set in Middle-earth sixty years before The Lord of the Rings, and portions of the film are adapted from the appendices to Tolkien's The Return of the King novel. An Unexpected Journey tells the tale of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is convinced by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to accompany thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on a quest across Middle-earth to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon. The film premiered in New Zealand on 28 November 2012 and was released internationally from 12 December 2012.
The film's screenplay was written by Peter Jackson, his longtime collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens (who also co-wrote The Lord of the Rings), and Guillermo del Toro, who was originally chosen to direct the film before leaving the project in 2010.
The Hobbit has grossed over $1 billion at the box office, surpassing both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers nominally. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. It was also nominated for three BAFTA Awards.
Long before Bilbo's involvement, the Dwarf Thrór becomes King of the Lonely Mountain, a kingdom that is located under the mountain. Thrór brings an era of prosperity to his kin until the arrival of Smaug the Dragon. Smaug destroys the nearby town of Dale, killing many of the men and women there, before driving the Dwarves out of their mountain and taking their hoard of gold. Thrór's grandson Thorin sees King Thranduil and his Wood-elves on a nearby hillside and is dismayed when they take their leave rather than aid his people, resulting in Thorin's everlasting hatred of Elves.
In the Shire, young Bilbo is tricked by the wizard Gandalf the Grey into hosting a party for Thorin and his company of Dwarves: Balin, Dwalin, Fíli, Kíli, Dori, Nori, Ori, Óin, Glóin, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur. Gandalf's aim is to recruit Bilbo as the Dwarves' "burglar" to aid them in their quest to enter the Lonely Mountain, of which they have a dwarven map and key to help guide them. Bilbo is, at first, unwilling to accept, but has a change of heart after they leave without him. He catches up with them and joins the company on their journey to the Lonely Mountain.
Traveling onward, the company gets captured by three Trolls. Bilbo stalls them from eating the dwarves until dawn, when Gandalf suddenly exposes the Trolls to sunlight, turning them all to stone. They search the Trolls' cave and find treasure and Elven blades. Thorin and Gandalf each take an Elf-made blade—Orcrist and Glamdring, respectively—with the latter finding an Elven shortsword, which he gives to Bilbo.
The company encounters Radagast the Brown, a wizard who lives in Greenwood. He tells them of an encounter at Dol Guldur with a Necromancer who has been corrupting the forest with dark magic. The company is chased by Orcs on Wargs, with Radagast covering their escape. Gandalf leads the company through a stone passage to Rivendell as the Wargs and Orcs are slain by Elven riders led by Lord Elrond. Elrond discovers hidden writing on Thorin's map and discloses that the Lonely Mountain has a secret door which will be visible only on Durin's Day. Gandalf talks with the White Council consisting of Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman the White. He tells them about his involvement with the Dwarves, presenting a Morgul-blade Radagast obtained from Dol Guldur as a sign that the Necromancer is linked to the Witch-king of Angmar and may attempt to use Smaug for his evil purposes. Saruman is skeptical, believing the Necromancer to be at most a human dabbling in dark magic, and not a true threat.
Without Gandalf, the company journeys into the Misty Mountains, where they find themselves amid a colossal battle between Stone Giants. They take refuge in a cave and are captured by Goblins, who take them to their leader, the Great Goblin. Bilbo becomes separated from the Dwarves and falls into a cave where he encounters Gollum, who accidentally drops a mysterious ring while killing a stray Goblin to eat. Pocketing the ring, Bilbo finds himself confronted by Gollum, who is initially deterred from attacking Bilbo because he wields the small Elvish blade. They play a riddle game, wagering that Bilbo will be shown the way out if he wins or eaten by Gollum if he loses. After riddling each other back and forth several times, Bilbo eventually wins by asking Gollum what he has in his pocket. Realizing that he lost the ring, Gollum suspects that Bilbo possesses it and attacks the hobbit. Bilbo discovers that the ring grants him invisibility and evades a furious Gollum.
Meanwhile, the Great Goblin reveals to the Dwarves that Azog, an Orc war-chief who beheaded Thrór and lost his forearm to Thorin in the Battle of Azanulbizar outside the Dwarven kingdom of Moria, has placed a bounty on Thorin's head and is even now searching for the dwarves. As the goblins search Thorin and company they discover Thorin's sword, Orcrist the goblin cleaver. The sight of this drives the Great Goblin into a fury. He orders the goblins to attack and behead Thorin and company. Gandalf arrives just in time and leads the Dwarves in a desperate escape, fighting their way through the goblin hordes and killing the Great Goblin.
Meanwhile, Bilbo eventually comes upon an exit, but it is being guarded by Gollum. Rather than kill his pursuer, Bilbo spares him and sneaks past him out of the mountain. As Bilbo leaves, Gollum curses him "forever." Bilbo rejoins the group, keeping secret the ring which he found.
Ambushed by Azog and his hunting party, the company take refuge in trees as wargs try and hunt them down. Thorin then challenges Azog, but is defeated and knocked to the ground by his mace and set upon by his warg. Bilbo saves Thorin from the Orcs just as the company is rescued by the Eagles who fly them to the safety of the Carrock. Gandalf heals the unconscious Thorin who acknowledges Bilbo's bravery. In the distance, the company sees the Lonely Mountain. The company also see a thrush flying about, which then heads to the Lonely Mountain. There, the thrush catches a snail and knocks its shell against the mountainside, awakening the sleeping Smaug, who is lying beneath a golden hoard.
Before filming began on 21 March 2011, the principal actors trained in sword fighting, riding and boating for a month. Jackson hoped such activities would allow the cast to bond so chemistry would be evident on screen as well as getting them used to life in Wellington. Some of the films' cast and their respective characters include:
- Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins: A hobbit hired by the wizard Gandalf to accompany 13 dwarves on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon. Peter Jackson said in an interview with NME that Freeman was his only choice to take the role of Bilbo Baggins as he felt that he had the necessary qualities that were needed to play Bilbo. Because of prior commitments to Sherlock, Freeman was initially unable to accept the role. However Jackson, because he was set on casting him as the role, reworked his entire shooting schedule to accommodate him.
- Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey: A wizard who recruits Bilbo and helps to arrange the quest to reclaim the Dwarves' lost treasure in Erebor. Gandalf was also portrayed by McKellen in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Cate Blanchett as Galadriel: An Elf and the co-ruler of Lothlórien along with her husband, Lord Celeborn. Galadriel does not appear in the novel The Hobbit. She was also portrayed by Blanchett in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. She herself is a ring bearer, yet does not hold one of such evil and power. Ian McKellen has suggested that Galadriel has, or once had, a romantic relationship with Gandalf.
- Hugo Weaving as Elrond: The Elven Lord of Rivendell. Elrond gives shelter to Bilbo's party, despite Thorin's great suspicion of elves. Elrond was also portrayed by Weaving in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Christopher Lee as Saruman the White: Head of Gandalf's Order of Wizards and the White Council. Saruman was also portrayed by Lee in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown: A wizard of Gandalf's Order. During the production of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, McCoy had been contacted about playing the role of Bilbo and was kept in place as a potential Bilbo for six months before Jackson went with Ian Holm. On 23 October 2010 it was announced that he was in negotiations to play a major role as a "wizard", leading to speculation he could appear as Radagast the Brown. This was later confirmed by the actor. He was officially added to the cast on 7 December 2010.
- Ian Holm as an old Bilbo Baggins: Bilbo was also portrayed by Holm in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. His scenes take place directly before the events of The Lord of the Rings.
- Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins: A hobbit and favourite relative of Bilbo Baggins. His scenes take place shortly before the events of The Lord of the Rings.
- Andy Serkis as Gollum: A wretched creature corrupted by the One Ring. Serkis portrayed Gollum through motion capture, as he did in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Serkis also acted as second unit director of the trilogy.
- Manu Bennett as Azog the Defiler: The Orc chieftain of Moria who beheaded King Thrór in the battle of Azanulbizar. He now hunts Thorin and Company, having taken an oath to break the line of Durin. He leads a band of Hunter Orcs and rides a huge white Warg. He is shown as a large pale Orc who, having had his left arm cut off, now wears a metal prosthetic hand and forearm.
- Lee Pace as the Elvenking Thranduil, ruler of the Woodland Realm of Mirkwood.
- Benedict Cumberbatch as The Necromancer of Dol Guldur: A mysterious sorcerer with the ability to summon the spirits of the dead. Cumberbatch provided performance-capture for the character's brief appearance in this film, and will also voice him in the subsequent installments.
- Barry Humphries as the Great Goblin: The ruler of the underground caverns of Goblin Town in the Misty Mountains.
- John Rawls as Yazneg: An Orc lieutenant and second-in-command of Azog's hunter party.
The Company of Dwarves
- Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the Company of Dwarves who have set out to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon. On his casting, Jackson was quoted as saying, "Richard is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle Earth is in such good hands."
- Graham McTavish as Dwalin. On his casting, McTavish stated, "I think that I would be very lucky indeed if ever again in my career, I was offered an opportunity that was going to be so iconic in its influence and scale with regards to The Hobbit. I can't think of anything comparable."
- Ken Stott as Balin, brother of Dwalin. He is described in the novel as "always their look-out man." On the casting of Stott, Jackson commented "Fran and I have long been fans of Ken's work and are excited he will be joining us on this journey."
- Aidan Turner as Kíli, nephew of Thorin and brother of Fíli. On his casting, Jackson stated, "Aidan is a wonderfully gifted young actor who hails from Ireland. I'm sure he will bring enormous heart and humor to the role of Kíli."
- Dean O'Gorman as Fíli. English actor Robert Kazinsky had originally been cast as Kíli's brother Fíli, but left the film on 24 April 2011 "for personal reasons". Jackson said that he would have time to cast a replacement due to focusing on filming scenes with Bilbo without dwarves. On 30 April 2011, Jackson announced via Facebook that O'Gorman had been hired as Kazinsky's replacement. Jackson stated, "Dean's a terrific Kiwi actor, who I am thrilled to be working with."
- Mark Hadlow as Dori, brother of Nori and Ori. He is described in the novel as "a decent fellow, despite his grumbling", while Thorin described him as being the strongest member of the Company. Hadlow is a long-time collaborator of Jackson's, having previously worked with him on films such as Meet the Feebles and King Kong. On his casting, Jackson said, "I have worked with Mark Hadlow on many projects; he is a fantastic actor. I am thrilled to be working with [him] on these movies." Hadlow also plays Bert the Stone-troll.
- Jed Brophy as Nori, brother of Dori and Ori. Brophy has collaborated with Jackson on several films, including Braindead, Heavenly Creatures, and all three Lord of the Rings films as various creatures.
- Adam Brown as Ori, brother of Dori and Nori. The role will mark Brown's first film appearance. Commenting on Brown's casting, Jackson was quoted as saying, "Adam is a wonderfully expressive actor and has a unique screen presence. I look forward to seeing him bring Ori to life."
- John Callen as Óin, brother of Glóin. On getting a role in the films, Callen stated, "I did wonder about my casting and how they had made the choice—maybe the long hair and the beard sold it, I thought. But now that has all gone. Given that Óin is almost 200 years old I can presume only that it was the age."
- Peter Hambleton as Glóin, brother of Óin and (afterward) father of Gimli, who was portrayed in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy by actor John Rhys-Davies. Hambleton also plays William the Stone-troll.
- William Kircher as Bifur, cousin of Bofur and Bombur. Kircher described Bifur as an "oddball" – both a "maniac fighter" and an "incredibly gentle" toymaker. The remnant of a goblin-axe in Bifur's forehead renders him incapable of speech, leaving him to communicate via gestures and grunts. Kircher also plays Tom the Stone-troll.
- James Nesbitt as Bofur, brother of Bombur and cousin of Bifur, described as "a disarmingly forthright, funny and occasionally brave Dwarf." On 15 October 2010, Deadline Hollywood reported that Nesbitt was in negotiations for a part in the film. On 1 November 2010, Jackson confirmed that he had been added to the cast. Jackson was quoted as saying, "James's charm, warmth and wit are legendary as is his range as an actor in both comedic and dramatic roles. We feel very lucky to be able to welcome him as one of our cast."
- Stephen Hunter as Bombur, brother of Bofur and cousin of Bifur; described in the novel as fat and clumsy. On being cast in the role, Hunter said, "Being cast in The Hobbit is really exciting and really an honour. I auditioned for the original Lord of the Rings way back when I signed with my agent in New Zealand. When I saw the films I thought, 'Man, I so want to do The Hobbit.'"
The cast also includes: Bret McKenzie as Lindir, an Elf of Rivendell; Kiran Shah as the Goblin scribe, a scribe and messenger for the Great Goblin; Jeffrey Thomas as Thrór, former King of Durin's Folk and grandfather of Thorin Oakenshield and Michael Mizrahi as Thráin II, a Dwarven king and Thorin's father.
A film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Hobbit (1937) was in development for several years after the critical and financial success of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003), co-written, co-produced, and directed by Peter Jackson. Jackson was initially going to produce a two-film adaptation of The Hobbit, which was to be directed by Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro left the project in May 2010, after about two years of working with Jackson and his production team, due to delays caused in part by financial problems at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Jackson was announced as director that October.
The Hobbit films were produced back to back, like The Lord of the Rings films. Principal photography for The Hobbit films began on 21 March 2011 in New Zealand and ended on 6 July 2012, after 266 days of filming. Pick-ups for An Unexpected Journey were filmed in July 2012 as well. Work on the film was expected to be completed on 26 November, just two days prior to the film's Wellington premiere.
High frame rate 
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey used a shooting and projection frame rate of 48 frames per second, becoming the first feature film with a wide release to do so. The new projection rate was advertised as "High Frame Rate" to the general public. However, the majority of cinemas projected the film at the industry standard 24 fps after the film was converted.
The musical score for An Unexpected Journey was composed by Howard Shore. It was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and featured several vocal soloists. The original song "Song of the Lonely Mountain", sung by Neil Finn, served as the end title theme. The album received nominations for various awards and peaked in the top ten charts in Korea and the United States.
The first trailer for An Unexpected Journey was first screened before the Jackson-produced The Adventures of Tintin in the US on 21 December 2011, and released on the Internet on the same day. Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times said, "While it was all too fleeting there was enough in it to stir the heart of fans." Jen Chaney of The Washington Post stated, "Visually and tonally, this preview for [An Unexpected Journey] looks like a perfect match for the Frodo Baggins tales that released in 2001, 2002 and 2003. […] But plot isn't the main matter at hand in the trailer… This clip is all about reacquainting us with Middle-earth."
Jackson, Freeman, McKellen, Armitage, Serkis, Wood, and co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens appeared at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International promoting the film and screening 12 minutes of footage.
On 8 October 2012, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown announced that for the week of the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the capital of New Zealand would be renamed the "Middle of Middle-earth".
Theatrical release 
The world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took place on 28 November 2012 in Wellington, New Zealand, with a full theatrical release in New Zealand on 12 December. The film was released 13 December 2012 in Europe, 14 December 2012 in India, Canada and United States, and 26 December 2012 (Boxing Day) in Australia. It was also screened at the 65th Royal Film Performance in London on 12 December 2012.
Home media 
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on March 19, 2013, with an extended edition containing 20 to 25 minutes of additional footage announced for release later in the year. In the United Kingdom, the film was released on April 8, 2013.
Box office 
An Unexpected Journey grossed $303,003,568 in the United States and Canada and $714,000,000 elsewhere, bringing to a worldwide total of $1,017,003,568. It is the fourth highest-grossing film of 2012, and the 15th highest-grossing film of all time. It scored a worldwide opening weekend of $222.6 million, including $15.1 million from 452 IMAX theaters around the world, which was an IMAX opening-weekend record for December.
- United States and Canada
An Unexpected Journey earned $13.0 million during its midnight run, setting a December midnight record (previously held by Avatar). It then topped the box office on its opening day (Friday, December 14, 2012) earning $37.1 million from 4,045 theaters (midnight earnings included), setting a December opening-day record (previously held by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). By the end of its first weekend it grossed $84.62 million, finishing in first place and setting a December opening-weekend record (previously held by I Am Legend). 3D showings accounted for 49% of weekend ticket sales while IMAX showings generated $10.1 million (12% of the weekend gross). The film held onto the top spot for a second weekend, despite declining 57% to $36.7 million. An Unexpected Journey remained at the top of the box office during its third weekend, dropping only 11% to $32.9 million.
- Other territories
An Unexpected Journey earned $11.2 million on its opening day (Wednesday, December 12, 2012) from 16 markets. Through its first Sunday, it managed a 5-day opening-weekend gross of just under $138.0 million. It topped the box office outside North America on two consecutive weekends. In Sweden, it scored the second-largest 5-day opening with $6.20 million (behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2). Its three largest openings occurred in the UK, Ireland and Malta ($18.8 million), Russia and the CIS ($17.8 million), and Germany ($17.1 million).
Critical response 
After the New Zealand premiere Television New Zealand noted that critical responses were "positive" but with "mixed responses to the film's technological advances", while the BBC said that reviews for An Unexpected Journey had been "mixed." After the film's wide international release, Forbes called reviews "unenthusiastic" and the Los Angeles Times said the critical consensus is that the film "stumbles". The film holds a 65% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 264 reviews with an average score of 6.6/10. The site's main consensus reads "Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is an earnest, visually resplendent trip, but the film's deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 58 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average reviews", based on reviews from 40 critics. The main contention of debate was regarding the film's length, its controversial High Frame Rate, and whether or not the film matched the level of expectation built from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, while the film's visual style, special effects, music score and cast were praised, especially Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage and Andy Serkis.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone criticised the film's use of "48 frames per second… Couple that with 3D and the movie looks so hyper-real that you see everything that's fake about it… The 169 minutes of screen time hurts, since the first 45 minutes of the film traps us in the hobbit home of the young Bilbo Baggins," but continued, "Once Bilbo and the dwarves set on their journey… things perk up considerably. Trolls, orcs, wolves and mountainous monsters made of remarkably pliable stone bring out the best in Jackson and his Rings co-screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens." Robbie Collin of The Telegraph said in a 2-star review "Thank heavens for Andy Serkis, whose riddling return as Gollum steals the entire film. It is the only time the digital effects and smoother visuals underline, rather than undermine, the mythical drama of Bilbo's adventure. As a lover of cinema, Jackson’s film bored me rigid; as a lover of Tolkien, it broke my heart." He felt the film was "so stuffed with extraneous faff and flummery that it often barely feels like Tolkien at all – more a dire, fan-written internet tribute." Time Out magazine's Keith Uhlich praised the film as "A mesmerizing study in excess, Peter Jackson and company's long-awaited prequel to the Lord of the Rings saga is bursting with surplus characters, wall-to-wall special effects, unapologetically drawn-out story tangents and double the frame rate (48 over 24) of the average movie." The Guardian magazine's Peter Bradshaw commented on use of high frame rate technology and length of the film, writing "After 170 minutes I felt that I had had enough of a pretty good thing. The trilogy will test the stamina of the non-believers, and many might feel ... that the traditional filmic look of Lord of the Rings was better." Richard Lawson from The Atlantic Wire commented on the film's "video game"-like visual effects, saying "this is a dismally unattractive movie, featuring too many shots that I'm sure were lovely at some point but are now ruined and chintzified by the terrible technology monster."
Matthew Leyland of Total Film said in a five-star review that it is "Charming, spectacular, technically audacious… in short, everything you expect from a Peter Jackson movie. A feeling of familiarity does take hold in places, but this is an epically entertaining first course." Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine awarded the film 3 stars out of 4, and called it "The first of an arguably gratuitous three-part cine-extravaganza." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said that "Jackson and his colleagues have created a purist's delight… [And leads to] an undeniably exciting, action-packed climax." McCarthy did however feel that "Though there are elements in this new film that are as spectacular as much of the Rings trilogy was… there is much that is flat-footed and tedious as well, especially in the early going." Kate Muir of The Times gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, saying Martin Freeman "perks up" the film as Bilbo Baggins and that Jackson's use of 48 frames per second 3D technology gives the film "lurid clarity". In a four-star review, Dan Jolin of Empire felt "The Hobbit plays younger and lighter than Fellowship and its follow-ups, but does right by the faithful and has a strength in Martin Freeman’s Bilbo that may yet see this trilogy measure up to the last one". He gave the film 4 out of 5 stars stating "There is treasure here".
The film received three Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling as well as praise from critics organization Broadcast Film Critics Association and from critics groups, such as the Houston Film Critics Society, Phoenix Film Critics Society and Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. The film's team won an Academy Scientific and Technical Award - the Scientific and Engineering Award for inventing a technique which has made huge advances in bringing to life computer-generated characters such as Gollum in the film to the screen. In January 2013, it was announced The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was nominated in the Best Live Action Motion Picture category at the Cinema Audio Society Awards, awarded on February 16.
An Unexpected Journey led the nominations at the 39th Saturn Awards with nine, more than The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring which earned eight nominations at the time of its release. These nominations include Best Director (Peter Jackson's eleventh Saturn Award nomination), Best Actor for Martin Freeman, Best Supporting Actor for Ian McKellen (his third nomination for playing Gandalf) and Best Music for Howard Shore.
An Unexpected Journey also earned five nominations at the 18th Empire Awards, winning in two categories, Best Actor for Martin Freeman and Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Film. It also earned two nominations at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards in the categories Best Scared-as-S**t Performance and Best Hero for Martin Freeman. Freeman won the latter award for his performance.
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