The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The story is set in Middle-earth
sixty years before the main 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
), who is convinced by the wizard Gandalf
) to accompany thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield
), 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
Long before Bilbo's involvement, the Dwarf
king Thrór brought 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 drove the Dwarves out of their mountain and took their hoard of gold. Thrór's grandson, Thorin
, sees King Thranduil
and his Wood-elves
on a nearby hillside, and is dismayed when they 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 dinner for Thorin and his company of Dwarves: Balin
, 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. Bilbo races to join the company. Travelling onward, the company is captured by three Trolls
. Bilbo stalls the Trolls from eating them until dawn, and Gandalf exposes the trolls to sunlight, turning them to stone. The company locates the Trolls' cave and finds treasure and Elven blades. Thorin and Gandalf each take an Elf-made blade, Orcrist
, respectively; Gandalf also finds an Elven dagger
, which he gives to Bilbo.
The wizard Radagast the Brown
finds Gandalf and the company, and recounts an encounter at Dol Guldur
with the Necromancer
, a sorcerer who has been corrupting Greenwood
with dark magic. Chased by Orcs
, Gandalf leads the company through a hidden 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
— and presents a Morgul blade
, a weapon of the Witch-king of Angmar
, which Radagast obtained from Dol Guldur as a sign that the Necromancer is linked to an eventual return of Sauron
. While Saruman presses concern to the more present matter of the Dwarves' quest, requesting that Gandalf put an end to it, Gandalf secretly reveals to Galadriel he had anticipated this and had the Dwarves move forward without him.
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 crevice where he encounters Gollum
, who unknowingly drops a golden ring
. 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. 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 out of pity and escapes while Gollum shouts his hatred towards the hobbit Baggins.
Meanwhile, the Great Goblin reveals to the Dwarves that Azog, an Orc war-chief who killed 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, killing the Great Goblin. Bilbo exits the mountain and rejoins the company, keeping his newly obtained ring secret. The company is ambushed by Azog and his hunting party, and takes refuge in trees. Thorin charges at Azog, who overpowers and severely injures him with his Warg
. Bilbo saves Thorin from the Orcs and challenges Azog, just as the company is rescued by eagles
implied to be sent by Galadriel. They escape to the safety of the Carrock
where Gandalf revives Thorin, who renounces his previous disdain for Bilbo after being saved by him.
They see the Lonely Mountain in the distance, where a sleeping dragon, Smaug is awoken by a thrush knocking a snail against a stone.
The characters of Galadriel, Saruman, and Frodo Baggins appear in the novel The Lord of the Rings
, but not in the novel The Hobbit
. (Radagast was also dropped from the film version of Lord of the Rings
, merely being mentioned in passing). Gandalf, Gollum, Bilbo Baggins, Elrond and the Necromancer appear in both novels, although the latter is referred to in Lord of the Rings
. Only Bilbo is portrayed by a different actor in the two sets of films, as the age difference affects his character more. The older Bilbo (Ian Holm) appears in the prologue section of this film.
- 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 dragonSmaug.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ken Stott as Balin: Dwalin's brother. He is described in the novel as "always their look-out man".
- Graham McTavish as Dwalin: Balin's brother.
- 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. 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. He was also portrayed by Lee in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins: Bilbo's favorite nephew. His scenes take place shortly before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown: a wizard whose wisdom involves nature and wildlife.
- 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.
- Barry Humphries as the Great Goblin: the king of the caverns of Goblin Town in the Misty Mountains.
- Conan Stevens as Bolg: son of Azog.
- 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.
- Stephen Ure as Fimbul, one of Azog's Orc hunters, and lieutenant to Yazneg. After Yazneg is killed, Fimbul becomes Azog's right-hand man. Ure also played a goblin, named Grinnah, who acted as the Great Goblin's acolyte.
- Michael Mizrahi as Thráin II: the last Dwarf-King of Erebor and Thorin's father.
- 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.
Cameos in the film include director Peter Jackson
and editor Jabez Olssen
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 then-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.
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.
Jackson would later comment that del Toro's sudden exit created problems as he felt he had inadequate preparation time which led to him shooting the films with unfinished scripts and without storyboards
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, orchestrated, conducted and produced by Howard Shore
. It was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
, London Voices
and Tiffin' Boys Choir and featured several vocal soloists. The score reprised many themes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy but also introduced numerous new themes, including Shore's orchestral setting of the diegetic "Misty Mountains" song.
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.
According to news reports, up to 27 animals died during the production of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
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."
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".
- Guardians of Middle-earth, which was released with the special disclaimer on the front art, marking 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, 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 28 November 2012 at the Embassy Theatre
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.
Around 100,000 people lined the red carpet on Courtenay Place
for the film's premiere, and the entire event was broadcast live on TV in New Zealand, as well as streaming over the internet.
An extended edition of the film had a limited re-release on 5 October 2015, accompanied by a special greeting from Peter Jackson.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on 19 March 2013,
with an extended edition, with 13 minutes of additional footage and three bonus discs containing approximately nine hours of special features, released on 5 November 2013.
In the United Kingdom, the film was released on 8 April 2013.
An Unexpected Journey
was released in Ultra HD Blu-ray
on 30 November 2020 in the United Kingdom and on 1 December 2020 in the United States, along with the other films of the trilogy, including both the theatrical and the extended editions of the films.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
grossed $303 million in the United States and Canada and $718.1 million elsewhere for a worldwide total of $1.017 billion,
becoming the 15th film in history to reach $1 billion. It is the fourth highest-grossing film of 2012
It scored a worldwide opening weekend of $222.6 million,
including $15.1 million from 452 IMAX theatres around the world, which was an IMAX opening-weekend record for December.
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, 14 December 2012) earning $37.1 million
from 4,045 theatres (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 then 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.
An Unexpected Journey
earned $11.2 million on its opening day (Wednesday, 12 December 2012) from 16 markets.
Through its first Sunday, it managed a five-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 five-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% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
based on 305 reviews, with an average score of 6.50/10. The site's 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."
, the film has a score of 58 out of 100 based on collected reviews from 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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.
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 with "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 Daily Telegraph
gave the film two stars out of five and said "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 thought 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 called the film "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
gave the film a five-star rating and said 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 three stars out of four 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 think 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 four out of five 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".
Dan Jolin of Empire
gave the film four out of five stars and thought "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" and he stated that "There is treasure here".
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Last edited on 1 May 2021, at 04:06
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