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Behind-the-Scenes: Making “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

As the three-part prequel to the massively popular “The Lord of the Rings” films, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” re-introduces us to Middle Earth characters like Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins. Together, the unlikely pair embark on their first brave journey…

What’s gotten under Gollum’s skin? Maybe, it’s actor Andy Serkis; he plays the character in the new film—and had the same role in previous “The Lord of the Rings” movies—using a motion capture suit. 

The Fellowship of the Hobbit
Film rights for “The Hobbit” had been tied up in bankruptcy procedures with MGM Studios. But IMAX 3D will finally bring audiences into the story when the film hits theaters just before the Christmas holiday. It’s expected to be a holiday box-office record-setter.

The cast for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is made up of great actors like Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee, and they bring the ancient world of J.R.R. Tolkien to life. Just take a look at the new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Gandalf is once again played by Sir Ian McKellen. 

The story is straight from the Tolkien book: a curious Hobbit (Bilbo Baggins) follows a wizard into the wild (Lonely Mountain, to be exact). The purpose of the trip, taken with a stout group of dwarves, is to recapture a grand prize from an evil dragon.

When film production finally started in March 2011, the actors and crew headed to New Zealand. That is, except for Ian Holm and Christopher Lee, who filmed their scenes at London’s Pinewood Studios, due to health reasons. But that’s not the only juicy bits of Hobbit trivia we were able to dig up:

  • The production was almost cast out of New Zealand when several unions and guilds blacklisted the production.
  • Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug/Necromancer) have acted together before—previously in the BBC production of “Sherlock” (based on Sherlock Holmes). Cumberbatch played the title role of Holmes while Freeman portrayed Dr. Watson.
  • Guillermo del Toro was originally set to direct but stepped down when MGM put the project on hold while it recovered from bankruptcy.


“Dragon? Did you say ‘dragon’? Nobody said anything about dragons…” Bilbo and his counterparts are greeted by a new challenge.

Production Stills: The Cast of Characters
Fans can’t get enough of the early buzz and online sneaks. With the film’s director Peter Jackson doing video blogs for “The Hobbit” production and character stills appearing, message boards and Facebook pages have lit up with anticipation about the movie. It’s easy to see why in the stunning production stills.

Actor Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins.

Bilbo Baggins is beckoned by the wizard Gandalf the Grey to join a group of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their quest is to recapture the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug…but Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers all lie in their path.

Spoiler Alert: It’s also in this movie that Bilbo gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring. Get ready for classic Tolkien action, adventure and un-imaginable fantasy—all served up Dungeons & Dragons style.

The cast of characters in “The Hobbit” rivals “The Lord of the Rings” films—and their wardrobe and make-up are just as impressive.

Making Make-Believe
The film employed both traditional theatrical artists (like make-up) and digital ones to create the characters. For example, the 3D character creation team (of over 300 people) was using Maya to create Orcs and Goblins.

Pencil artists even took to 3D storyboarding so filmmakers could get an accurate look at what shots might look like in the third dimension. In fact, not a detail was overlooked to bring the digital re-creation of the amazing literary classic to life.

Grab a pair of old-school 3D glasses to get the full impact of this 3D scene from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

Add all this hard work up and you’ve got the recipe for a blockbuster. This looks to be Hollywood filmmaking at its finest and we can’t wait for one of the most anticipated films of the year to hit IMAX screens. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will open December 14.


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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments