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|
|Edited by||Jabez Olssen|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$1.017 billion|
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a 2012 epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson. It is the first installment in a three-part film adaptation based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is followed by The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and together they act as a prequel to Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The film's screenplay was written by Peter Jackson, his longtime collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro, who was originally chosen to direct the film before leaving the project in 2010.
The story is set in Middle-earth sixty years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, and portions of the film are adapted from the appendices to Tolkien's The Return of the King. An Unexpected Journey tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is convinced by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to accompany thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug. The ensemble cast also includes James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis, and features Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries and Manu Bennett.
An Unexpected Journey premiered on November 28, 2012 in New Zealand and was released internationally on December 12, 2012. The film has grossed over $1 billion at the box office, surpassing both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers nominally, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 2012 and the 18th highest grossing film of all time. 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.
Approaching his 111th birthday, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins begins writing down the full story of his adventure 60 years earlier for the benefit of his nephew Frodo. Long before Bilbo's involvement, the Dwarf king Thrór brings an era of prosperity for his kin under the Lonely Mountain until the arrival of the dragon Smaug. Destroying the nearby town of Dale, Smaug drives the Dwarves out of their mountain and takes 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, 50-year-old 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 company's "burglar" to aid them in their quest to enter the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo is unwilling to accept at first but has a change of heart after the company leaves without him the next day. Traveling onward, the company is captured by three trolls, Tom, Bert & William, after their ponies are captured. Bilbo stalls the trolls from eating them until dawn. Gandalf exposes the trolls to sunlight turning them 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. Gandalf also finds an elven shortsword ("Sting"), which he gives to Bilbo.
The company meets the wizard Radagast the Brown, who tells them of an encounter at Dol Guldur with the Necromancer, a sorcerer who has been corrupting Greenwood with dark magic. The company is then chased by orcs on wargs. Radagast covers the company's escape as Gandalf leads the company through a stone passage to Rivendell. There, Lord Elrond discloses a hidden indication of a secret door on the company's map of the Lonely Mountain, which will be visible only on Durin's Day. Gandalf later approaches the White Council — consisting of Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman the White — about his involvement with the dwarves. He also presents a Morgul blade Radagast obtained from Dol Guldur as a sign that the Necromancer is linked to the Witch-king of Angmar, despite Saruman's skepticism. When Saruman presses concern to the more present matter of the dwarves and Smaug, requesting that Gandalf put an end to the quest, Gandalf secretly reveals to Galadriel he had anticipated this and had the dwarves move forward without him. Galadriel then asks Gandalf about his motives and encourages him in his quest, promising him that she will come in person to help him, if he should ever need her.
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 unknowingly drops a golden ring while killing a stray goblin, who attacked Bilbo from earlier, to eat. Pocketing the ring, Bilbo finds himself confronted by Gollum. They play a riddle game, wagering that Bilbo will be shown the way out if he wins or eaten by Gollum if he loses. Bilbo eventually wins by asking Gollum what he has in his pocket. Gollum then guesses what the hobbit has in his pocket three times and loses. Noticing his ring is lost, Gollum realizes that Bilbo possesses it and chases him. Bilbo discovers that the ring grants him invisibility, but when he has a chance to kill Gollum, Bilbo spares his life and escapes while Gollum shouts his hatred towards the hobbit.
Meanwhile, the Great Goblin reveals to the dwarves that Azog, an Orc war-chief who beheaded Thrór and lost his forearm to Thorin in battle outside the Dwarven kingdom of Moria, has placed a bounty on Thorin's head. Gandalf arrives and leads the dwarves in an escape and kills the Great Goblin. Bilbo exits the mountain and rejoins the company, keeping secret his newly obtained ring. The company is ambushed by Azog and his hunting party, and takes refuge in trees. Thorin charges at Azog, but is overpowered and left defenseless on the ground. Bilbo saves Thorin from the orcs just as the company is rescued by eagles. They escape to the safety of the Carrock where Gandalf is able to revive Thorin, who renounces his previous disdain for Bilbo after being saved by him. In the distance, the company sees the Lonely Mountain, where the sleeping Smaug is awakened by the knocking sound of a thrush.
- Martin Freeman as Young Bilbo Baggins: a hobbit hired by the wizard Gandalf to accompany 13 dwarves on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug. Ian Holm, who portrayed Old Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy appears also in scenes that take place directly before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey: an Istari 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.
- Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield II: the leader of the Company of dwarves who has set out to reclaim his birthright as King of the Lonely Mountain from Smaug.
- Graham McTavish as Dwalin: Balin's brother.
- Ken Stott as Balin: Dwalin's brother. He is described in the novel as "always their look-out man".
- Aidan Turner as Kíli: Thorin's nephew and Fíli's younger brother.
- Dean O'Gorman as Fíli: Thorin's nephew and Kíli's older brother.
- Mark Hadlow as Dori: Nori and Ori's brother. 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 also plays Bert the Stone-troll.
- Jed Brophy as Nori: Dori and Ori's brother.
- Adam Brown as Ori: Dori and Nori's brother.
- John Callen as Óin: Gloin's brother.
- Peter Hambleton as Glóin: Óin's brother. Hambleton also plays William the Stone-troll.
- William Kircher as Bifur: Bofur and Bombur's cousin. Kircher also plays Tom the Stone-troll.
- James Nesbitt as Bofur: Bombur's brother and Bifur's cousin, described as "a disarmingly forthright, funny and occasionally brave Dwarf".
- Stephen Hunter as Bombur: Bofur's brother and Bifur's cousin; described in the novel as fat and clumsy.
- Cate Blanchett as Galadriel: the elven 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.
- Hugo Weaving as Elrond: the Elven-Lord of Rivendell, who gives shelter to Bilbo's party, despite Thorin's great suspicion of Elves. He was also portrayed by Weaving in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Christopher Lee as Saruman the White: the head of the Istari Order and its White Council. Saruman does not appear in the novel The Hobbit. He was also portrayed by Lee in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown: an Istari wizard whose wisdom involves nature and wildlife.
- Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins: Bilbo's favorite nephew. His scenes take place shortly before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Andy Serkis as Gollum: a wretched hobbit-like 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 and now hunts for Thorin and his Company after taking 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 Thranduil: the Elven-King of Mirkwood.
- Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the dragon Smaug, as well as The Necromancer, a mysterious sorcerer residing in Dol Guldur with the ability to summon the spirits of the dead. Cumberbatch provided performance capture for the character's brief appearance in this film.
- Barry Humphries as the Great Goblin: the king of the underground caverns of Goblin Town in the Misty Mountains.
- John Rawls as Yazneg: Azog's second-in-command. Movement choreographer Terry Notary played Yazneg during pick-up shots.
- 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: the former king of Durin's Folk and Thorin's grandfather.
- Michael Mizrahi as Thráin II: the last Dwarf-King of Erebor and Thorin's father.
Cameos in the film include director Peter Jackson and editor Jabez Olssen as Erebor Dwarf refugees running from the dragon Smaug in the opening prologue; picture double Hayden J. Weal as a dwarf carrying gems during Thranduil's visit in Erebor; James Nesbitt's wife Sonia Forbes-Adam as Belladonna Took, Bilbo's mother; Nesbitt's daughters Peggy and Mary as children of Dale; Luke Evans as Girion; and production designer Dan Hennah as the Old Took, Belladonna's father. Peter Jackson's daughter, Philippa Boyens's second son, and Andy Serkis' children made cameos in the Old Took's party; and Jabez Olssen's wife and children, Weta Workshop founder Richard Taylor's children, and set decorator Ra Vincent's children all cameo in the market scene. Writer for Ain'tItCoolNews.com, Eric Vespe, portrays Fredegar Chubb, the fish seller at the market. The cameos in the Old Took's party and the market scene are shown only in the extended edition.
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 March 21, 2011 in New Zealand and ended on July 6, 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 November 26, 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 December 21, 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 October 8, 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".
Three video games were released in December for different planforms to coincide with the theatrical release of the film featuring tie-in materials. Those were:
- Guardians of Middle-earth, which was released with the special disclaimer on the front art, markong the connection to the feature film and contains models and characters from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, including Nori, Gollum, Dwalin and others.
- Lego The Lord of the Rings (video game), which was released around the same time as the motion picture and contains a Lego model of Radagast, based on his portrayal in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
- The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth, which features characters and locations as well as the elements of the official soundtrack.
The world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey took place on November 28, 2012 at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand, with a full theatrical release in New Zealand on December 12. The film was released December 13, 2012 in Europe, December 14, 2012 in India, Canada and United States, and December 26, 2012 (Boxing Day) in Australia. It was also screened at the 65th Royal Film Performance in London on December 12, 2012.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on March 19, 2013, with an extended edition, with 13 minutes of additional footage and three bonus discs containing approximately nine hours of special features, released on November 5, 2013. In the United Kingdom, the film was released on April 8, 2013.
An Unexpected Journey grossed $303,003,568 in the United States and Canada and $714 million elsewhere, bringing to a worldwide total of $1,017,003,568, becoming the fifteenth film in history to reach $1 billion. It is the fourth highest-grossing film of 2012, and the 18th 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.
- North America
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).
After the New Zealand premiere, Television New Zealand noted that critical responses were "largely positive" but with "mixed responses to the film's technological advances". After the film's international release, Forbes called reviews "unenthusiastic" and the Los Angeles Times said the critical consensus is that the film "stumbles". The film holds a 64% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 270 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 aggregate review site Metacritic, the film has a score of 58 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average reviews", based on collected 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 the performances of Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage and Andy Serkis. According to CinemaScore polls the film received an "A" grade from audiences.
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 included 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. It won Best Production Design for Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent and Simon Bright.
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. It has gathered 6 nominations at the 2013 SFX Awards, including Best Film, Best Director for Peter Jackson and four acting nominations.
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A knowledgeable source says the first two installments cost $315 million each, and that's with Jackson deferring his fee. A studio source insists that number is wildly inflated and, with significant production rebates from New Zealand, the cost is closer to $200 million a movie.
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