Saturday, 3 May 2014

Third Hobbit film to be subtitled The Battle Of The Five Armies

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit has seen many ups and downs in its journey to the big screen. It's changed director, gone from two films to three, and now sees the third film retitled from There And Back again, the book's subtitle, to The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies.

Following weeks of rumour and online speculation surrounding a possible title change for the third Hobbit outing – with Into The Fire said to be the likely moniker – the filmmakers have gone with the name of the climactic clash in Tolkien's book. Or at least pretty close. In the book it's called The Battle Of Five Armies with no additional definite article.

Director Peter Jackson announced the news via his Facebook page.
Our journey to make The Hobbit Trilogy has been in some ways like Bilbo's own, with hidden paths revealing their secrets to us as we've gone along. "There And Back Again" felt like the right name for the second of a two film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo's arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced – after all, Bilbo has already arrived "there" in the "Desolation Of Smaug".
When we did the premiere trip late last year, I had a quiet conversation with the studio about the idea of revisiting the title. We decided to keep an open mind until a cut of the film was ready to look at. We reached that point last week, and after viewing the movie, we all agreed there is now one title that feels completely appropriate. 
And so: "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" it is.
As Professor Tolkien intended, "There and Back Again" encompasses Bilbo's entire adventure, so don't be surprised if you see it used on a future box-set of all three movies. 
Before then however, we have a film to finish, and much to share with you. It's been a nice quiet time for us – Jabez and I happily editing away in a dark cave in Wellington – but those halcyon days are quickly coming to an end. It will soon be time to step into the light. Expect to see and hear much about The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies in the coming months. 
And there's also The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Extended Cut, which we're in the process of finishing, with over 25 mins of new scenes, all scored with original music composed by Howard Shore. 
It'll be a fun year!
It's clearly a decision that Jackson can explain thematically rather than being a business decision made by the marketeers at Warner Bros. We can also expect to see some large-scale action this time around to justify that title, so brace yourselves for major fight scenes.

Spoilers for non-readers follow!

The Battle Of The Five Armies, of course, sees Goblins and Wargs (one army, supported by scary bats) face off against dwarves, elves, men and giant eagles (four much smaller armies) in a quest to gain control of Erebor (The Lonely Mountain) and Smaug's treasures within. In the book, Bilbo spends much of the conflict unconscious – we wonder whether that will still be the case onscreen? One change this time should see the Orcs being led by the Necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch), making them even more formidable.

Spoilers end

The three films are now united in having titles almost but not quite taken from the text of the book. The first, An Unexpected Journey, echoed the book's first chapter title, An Unexpected Party. The second film, The Desolation Of Smaug, comes from a description of the area around Erebor as "the Desolation of the Dragon" (in fairness, those exact words are used on Tolkien's map). And now the third is inspired by the Battle Of Five Armies. Purists, however, will have to hold out for the box set Jackson mentioned.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies will hit cinemas on 12 December 2014, starring, as ever, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch (presumably as both the Necromancer and Smaug), Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lily, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt and many more.

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