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Peter Jackson walks us through his battle plans for 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies'

Imagine Peter Jackson in a
general’s cap, planted wide-stanced in front of a huge New Zealand flag, teeth clenched around a cigarette holder as he rallies his troops of CG artists. While the reality is less Patton-esque, designing and creating the 45-minute fight at the climax of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is much like preparing
for an actual full-scale assault. “There’s a lot of logistics that have to be thought through,” says Jackson. “We have dwarves and men and elves and orcs, all with different cultures, with different weapons, and different shields and patterns and tactics.”

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Prepare for the end with the first 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' teaser

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First seen in the hallowed halls of Comic-Con, the first teaser trailer for Peter Jackson’s final movie set in Middle Earth, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, has hit the wider world. Get ready for some nostalgia.

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Video: New 'Housebound' trailer depicts haunted house arrest

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Fans of Peter Jackson’s early, gory output should definitely check out the trailer for the forthcoming horror film Housebound—a film which has apparently received the stamp of approval from Sir Peter himself.

Written and directed by New Zealand filmmaker Gerard Johnstone, the film stars Morgana O’Reilly as a woman who is placed on home detention and has to live with her mother. Mom believes her house is haunted. Is she right? Find out on October 17, when the film arrives in theatres as well as on VOD and iTunes.

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Critical Mass: Is 'The Desolation of Smaug' better than 'An Unexpected Journey'?

For four epic Middle-earth adventures, director Peter Jackson has brought to life the famous hobbits, dwarfs, elves, orcs, and wizards from J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination. But in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, part 2 of Jackson’s three-part quest to wring ever last ounce of drama from Tolkien’s slim Lord of the Ring‘s predecessor, the visual feast starts and ends with a giant dragon who sounds an awful lot like Sherlock Holmes.

Smaug is the apocalypse-breathing dragon who evicted the dwarfs from their mountain home and now swims in their treasure. Jackson has compared Smaug to Hannibal Lecter, and the allure of his inevitable confrontation with Bilbo (Martin Freeman) promises to be as anticipated and delighted in as the hobbit’s first encounter with Gollum in the previous movie, An Unexpected Journey. “The dragon is, quite simply, a marvel,” writes EW’s Owen Gleiberman, “gargantuan yet balletic, hoarding his mountain of gold with a razor-toothed smile, breathing not just flame but an inferno, and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch with the most delicious, insidious knowledge.”

Joining Bilbo in the second leg of his adventure, along with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the baker’s dozen of dwarfs, is a familiar face from the Rings trilogy: Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, who wasn’t originally written in The Hobbit. Jackson and his co-writers, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, go even further outside the Tolkien canon with Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), a wholly-invented female-warrior elf who introduces a romantic thread not entirely unwelcome in the film, according to many critics.

Before you head to the theater — wearing your fuzzy hobbit slippers, of course — click below to see what the leading critics are saying about The Desolation of Smaug. READ FULL STORY

Peter Jackson reveals where he would have split 'The Hobbit' if it'd only been two movies

With The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug now in theaters, it’s imperative, first of all, that you know the proper pronunciation of ‘Smaug.’ Never fear: EW’s Anthony Breznican covers that with director Peter Jackson in the interview clip below. The chat is a part of EW Radio’s Hobbit special, which will be replaying on SiriusXM Channel 105 throughout the weekend. Jackson says Breznican was the first reporter to ever ask him where he would have split the films had there only been two. Listen below for the answer. READ FULL STORY

'The Hobbit' lawsuit: Weinsteins and Miramax sue Warner Bros. over profits

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After months of legal harrumphing from all corners, Miramax sued Warner Bros. and New Line for $75 million over claims to profits related to The Hobbit sequels. Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who ran Miramax when it was developing The Hobbit in the 1990s and retained a financial piece of Peter Jackson’s 2012 movie, are part of the lawsuit.

“This case is about greed and ingratitude,” the plaintiffs claim in papers filed today in Manhattan. “It arises in connection with a decision by Warner Bros. and New Line executives to divide a motion picture based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit into three installments and Warner Bros and New Line’s claim that, as a result of that unilateral decision, Plaintiffs are not entitled to their previously agreed upon share of revenue from The Hobbit film.”

Miramax owned the rights to Tolkien’s novel — and its Lord of the Rings trilogy follow-up — briefly in the 1990s before selling them to New Line in 1998. As part of that deal, however, Miramax retained a stake in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, a claim that earned the Weinsteins more than $100 million after Peter Jackson’s films became billion-dollar blockbusters. However, New Line and its parent companies argue that that agreement extended only to the first Hobbit film — not its sequels. “This is about one of the great blunders in movie history,” said Warner Bros. in a statement. “Fifteen years ago, Miramax, run by the Weinstein brothers, sold its rights in The Hobbit to New Line. No amount of trying to rewrite history can change that fact. They agreed to be paid only on the first motion picture based on The Hobbit. And that’s all they’re owed.”
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Peter Jackson on bringing the 'Hobbit' villain Smaug to life: 'He's the Hannibal Lecter of the dragon world.'

For months, director Peter Jackson has been teasing audiences with fleeting glimpses of the fearsome dragon that lies in wait for Bilbo Baggins and his cohorts in the second part of his epic Hobbit trilogy: a blast of fire here, a menacing baritone voice there (courtesy of actor Benedict Cumberbatch). In just six days, with the Dec. 13 opening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the director will finally pull back the curtain on his interpretation of one of the best-known villains in fantasy literature.

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'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug': Will the Elves join the fight? -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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When The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug roars into theaters on Dec. 13, fans of Tolkien’s Middle-earth books and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies will revel in its magnificent visual delights, the return of their favorite characters, and a first real glimpse at a most lethal dragon. As if that’s not enough to hold your attention, Jackson made his own contribution to the Tolkien universe by introducing a whole new Elven character, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and pairing her with Legolas (Orlando Bloom), the Elven member of the Fellowship of the Ring. “Legolas isn’t discussed in The Hobbit, but as far as Tolkien is concerned, he would have been part of that structure within the Woodland Realm,” Jackson told EW last month. “And we needed characters within the Woodland Realm to drive the story.”

Purists may sniff, but co-writer Philippa Boyens calls Tauriel — a fierce, no-nonsense warrior who understands the danger of the growing evil in Middle-earth before her king does –“a breath of fresh air in many ways.” In the exclusive clip below, she sets out to take on 30 orcs single-handledly. Fortunately, another hero isn’t far behind. READ FULL STORY

Orlando Bloom on the return of Legolas in 'The Hobbit' and how elves make love

If you were a bit befuddled to see Orlando Bloom’s Lord of the Rings fan favorite Legolas pop up in trailers for the upcoming Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug — given that the elf warrior doesn’t appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original book — well, you’re not the only one.

Speaking to EW for this week’s cover story on Smaug, Bloom says he was surprised when director Peter Jackson asked him to come onboard the Hobbit trilogy. Nevertheless, Bloom says he happily signed on even before he’d seen a script. “If Pete said, ‘Jump,’ I’d say, ‘How high?’ based on my previous experiences with him and my gratitude toward him for giving me my start in life, as it were,” says the actor, who was all but unknown when Jackson cast him in in the Rings trilogy.

Tolkien purists may wring their hands over the Hobbit films’ deviations from the strict canon, but Jackson argues that bringing Legolas into The Hobbit makes perfect sense both narratively and in terms of Tolkien-ology. As Tolkien later established in the Rings books, Legolas is the son of the Elvenking Thranduil, who is in the Hobbit novel, and since elves are immortal, it stands to reason that he would have been around when Bilbo and the dwarves went tramping through the wood-elves’ territory. “Legolas isn’t discussed in The Hobbit, but as far as Tolkien is concerned, he would have been part of that structure within the Woodland Realm,” Jackson says. “And we needed characters within the Woodland Realm to drive the story.”
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Evangeline Lilly on playing new 'Hobbit' elf Tauriel: 'I did have to hesitate and go, 'Whoa, people are going to hate me'

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The Dec. 13 opening of part two in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, is still weeks away, but some die-hard J.R.R. Tolkien devotees have already been grumbling for more than a year about the invention of a brand-new character for the film: a female elf warrior named Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly. At least one person involved in the film totally understands how they feel: Lilly herself.

As a kid growing up in Canada, Lilly tells EW in this week’s cover story on Smaug, she fell in love with Tolkien’s classic 1937 novel The Hobbit (the elves were her favorite characters) and became a true-blue Tolkien purist. In fact, she was such a hard-core fan of Tolkien’s books that when the first film in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy opened in 2001, she refused to even see it at first. “I was like, ‘Nobody is going to bring to life the books that I read in the way they came to life in my mind so I don’t want them touched,’ ” she says.
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