Ten years ago, today, the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey premiered in Wellington, New Zealand (its very first premiere before wide release). Directed by Peter Jackson, the screenplay was written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro & Jackson. J.R.R. Tolkien, of course, is the original writing master. The cast list is extensive (lots of dwarves). Main characters are Young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Old Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), Saruman the White (Christopher Lee), Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy), Gollum (Andy Serkis) and Smaug the Dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch).
Bilbo Baggins is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the wild, through treacherous lands, swarming with Goblins, Orcs, deadly Wargs, giant spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…a simple gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-Earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.
♦ Asked how many wizards there are, Gandalf says there are five, naming Saruman, Radagast and himself, then saying [that] he can’t remember the names of the other two, merely saying, “the two blues.” Their names, Alatar and Pallando, appear in the book Unfinished Tales, a collection of J.R.R. Tolkien ideas, and half-manuscripts, edited into book form by his son Christopher Tolkien. The filmmakers didn’t have rights to use material from that book, so the two blue wizards remain unnamed in this movie.
♦ The production team returned to the same shooting location for Hobbiton as they used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The land is part of a farm, which the owners allowed to be transformed into the Hobbiton set by The Lord of the Rings production crew in the late 1990s. After filming wrapped on the first trilogy, the farm’s owners turned the land into a Tolkien tourism spot, offering guided tours of the Hobbiton set. With the crew from The Hobbit trilogy making improvements and additions to the aging Hobbiton set, the farm owners were happy to temporarily close down their tourism business, so filming could take place there again.
♦ Sir Ian Holm and Sir Christopher Lee filmed their scenes at London’s Pinewood Studios because health concerns left them uncomfortable with flying to New Zealand.
Four years ago, when I started blogging, again, I covered the second movie. ~Vic
Official Trailer Two
Ten years ago, today, the #1 movie in theaters was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Released August 5, it was directed by Rupert Wyatt and is based on the novel La Planète des singes by French novelist Pierre Boulle, translated to Planet of the Apes and, Monkey Planet in the UK. Written by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (married writing team), it was produced by Jaffa, Silver, Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark. Thomas M. Hammel was Executive Producer and Patrick Doyle was the film composer. Cast: Andy Serkis (Caesar), James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, David Hewlett, Karin Konoval (Maurice), Terry Notary (Rocket/Bright Eyes), Richard Ridings (Buck), Devyn Dalton (Cornelia), Jay Caputo (Alpha-Caesar’s Father) and Christopher Gordon (Koba).
At the story’s heart is Caesar, a chimpanzee who gains human-like intelligence and emotions from an experimental drug. Raised like a child by the drug’s creator, Will Rodman and a primatologist Caroline Aranha, Caesar ultimately finds himself taken from the humans he loves and imprisoned in an ape sanctuary in San Bruno. Seeking justice for his fellow inmates, Caesar gives the fellow apes the same drug that he inherited. He then assembles a simian army and escapes the sanctuary, putting man and ape on a collision course that could change the planet forever.
I liked this movie but, Roger Ebert was brutal. ~Vic
♦ The jigsaw puzzle that Caesar has nearly completed is a depiction of Taylor and Nova from Planet of the Apes (1968), riding on a horse down the beach, just before coming upon the Statue of Liberty.
♦ Koba, the scarred lab ape and, some apes at the Gen-Sys and sanctuary, are bonobos. This species was assumed, until very recently, to be a subspecies of chimp, explaining its absence in previous films.
♦ Will Rodman’s surname is a nod to Planet of the Apes (1968) screenwriter Rod Serling.
Five years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who #7) and Stephen Fry (apologies up front right now to all the Tolkien fans if I have missed a favorite actor of yours…I listed the ones that the U.S. audience would recognize).
“The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.
♦ Benedict Cumberbatch, in his own words, ”…ripped into [his] vocal cords quite literally, [he] had blood at the end of the day from tearing [his] throat to pieces…” in order to get Smaug’s voice right. The crew had to make a lot of “Gollum Juice” for him, a tea of honey, lemon and ginger, which Andy Serkis had created during the original trilogy when voicing Gollum.
♦ During filming, Sir Ian McKellen had to spend several hours in a box, with nothing but a microphone and pictures of the Dwarves for company (the footage would be edited in to make him look taller than the Dwarves) and, was so upset by this that he exclaimed “This is not why I became an actor!” The microphone was still on and everyone on-set heard him as a result. In consolation, the cast and crew surprised him by sticking gifts, and encouragement messages, into his trailer.
♦ This was the fourth highest grossing film of 2013.
♦ At one time, this film was the 24th highest grossing film of all time (worldwide theatrical total, not factoring in TV, DVD, broadcasting rights, stage adaptions & merchandising) but, sits at the #44 position as of December 7, 2018.
With three Academy Award nominations, two BAFTA nominations, one Grammy nomination, one People’s Choice Award nomination, seven Saturn Award nominations, various other nominations and six wins, I will leave you to read up on all of the accolades on your own (extensive list). ~Vic