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'The Hobbit' Comic-Con panel: Peter Jackson gifts a bounty of footage upon Hall H

The Project: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again

The Panel: Director Peter Jackson, along with stars Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, and Andy Serkis (also second unit director), surprise guest Elijah Wood, and screenwriter Philippa Boyens. Moderated by the Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick

Footage Screened: The panel began with the latest behind-the-scenes video blog dispatch — which Peter Jackson has been posting regularly on The Hobbit‘s official Facebook page — on the final five days of production. We’ll post it on EW.com when it goes live, but there was a wealth of lovely moments, including interviews with Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, and Stephen Fry, all of whom seem to figure more prominently in the second film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, which includes the climatic confrontation with the dragon Smaug. We also saw the final day of production on both the second unit — directed by Andy Serkis — and the main unit, including a scene between Bilbo (Freeman) and Gandalf (McKellan) with this dialogue (which was heard, but not seen):  READ FULL STORY

'Hobbit' star Richard Armitage lands major role in tornado thriller -- EXCLUSIVE

The Hobbit just wrapped shooting and the Dec. 14 opening of its first installment, An Unexpected Journey, is still months away, but one of its stars, Richard Armitage, is already enjoying a major career boost. The British actor, who plays the fierce dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy epic, has joined the cast of New Line’s untitled tornado thriller.

Armitage, who had roles in the BBC series North and South, Robin Hood, and MI-5, plays a widowed father who, with the help of storm chasers, tries to rescue his son from the aftermath of a string of tornadoes.

Director Steve Quale, a protégé of James Cameron who helmed Final Destination 5 and served as second unit director on Avatar, is directing the movie, which also will feature Walking Dead costar Sarah Wayne Callies. The film is set to begin shooting July 23 in Detroit.

Read more:

‘Hobbit’: Meet the Dwarves!
‘The Hobbit’: Peter Jackson offers the first look at Thorin Oakenshield
‘Hobbit’: 10 New Photos!

Peter Jackson unveils new 'Hobbit' Comic-Con exclusive: Check it out!

We at EW are not the only ones working ourselves into a frenzy over the arrival of this week’s San Diego Comic-Con. Peter Jackson took to The Hobbit’s official Facebook page this weekend to unveil a new poster for the highly anticipated film. Even better? Fans attending the Con can score one starting Thursday. See it below.

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'The Hobbit' movies wrap filming

peter-jackson.jpg

Peter Jackson just made it Facebook official. After 266 days of shooting, the director of the two upcoming Hobbit films announced the end of principal photography with a photo on his Facebook.

“Thanks to our fantastic cast and crew for getting us this far, and to all of you for your support!” Jackson wrote. “Next stop, the cutting room. Oh, and Comic Con!”

We interviewed Jackson, along with Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and Ian McKellen (Gandalf), for this week’s cover story about the upcoming movies, which expand the world of the original 1937 book by drawing from the lore of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s other works.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrives in theaters Dec. 14. The second film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again is slated for a Dec. 13 release in 2013. It has been nearly a decade since the last of the Jackson-directed Lord of the Rings trilogy films, The Return of the King, was released.

Read more on EW.com:
LEGO announces deal to reimagine ‘The Hobbit’ universe
Evangeline Lilly discusses learning elvish, breastfeeding on the set of ‘The Hobbit’
‘Hobbit’ titles: Tolkien touch or Lifetime drama?

'The Hobbit,' 'Django Unchained,' 'Iron Man 3,' 'Man of Steel' scheduled for Comic-Con

Comic-Con devotees know well that Saturday is usually the peak day at the convention, when the density of attendees hits its maximum and the air grows thick with excitement (and body odor). It’s no surprise then that, in the convention’s newly unveiled Saturday schedule, some of the most highly anticipated upcoming fanboy-friendly movies have slated their presentations for that day.

Quentin Tarantino will be on hand at the Hall H panel for Django Unchained, along with as-yet-unannounced cast members, and will offer a sneak peek at footage from his gonzo western about a slave turned bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) who sets out to rescue his wife from a cold-blooded plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio.)

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures will pack a major combination punch at their Hall H presentation, rolling out three big tentpoles sure to soak up a lot of buzz at the convention: Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi epic Pacific Rim, which pits giant monsters versus giant robots; Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot Man of Steel; and the first installment of director Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy classic The Hobbit, subtitled An Unexpected Journey.

Marvel will also be on hand to unveil a glimpse at Iron Man 3 at a panel featuring producer Kevin Feige and as-yet-unrevealed “special guests.” Will Feige also pull back the curtain on plans for Avengers 2? Stay tuned.

There’s plenty for TV fans in Saturday’s schedule as well, including a True Blood panel and Q&A (moderated by EW’s own Tim Stack) along with panels for The Simpsons, Once Upon a Time, Family Guy, Shameless, Grimm, and Glee.

For the full Comic-Con program schedule, you can head over to the convention’s official site. And keep checking back here for more updates.

Elijah Wood explains his new 'Speed'-at-a-piano movie, 'The Hobbit' hubbub

Pop quiz, hotshot. We have your wife and you’re about to start playing Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto from a stage in front of hundreds of people. You play one false note — just one — and you can kiss her goodbye. What do you do? What. Do. You. Do.

That’s a tired overdramatization of how the Hollywood Reporter characterized the recently announced film, Grand Piano, which will star Elijah Wood as an emotionally fragile pianist returning to the concert hall for the first time after a five-year layoff, only to discover a violent threat scribbled on his sheet music. “Speed at a piano,” blared the trade.

Well, sort of. Wood chuckled when he heard that description of the project, to be directed by Spanish filmmaker Eugenia Mira and filmed mostly in the director’s native country later this summer. “We always need some kind of tagline for a point of reference, don’t we?” READ FULL STORY

'2001: A Space Odyssey' tech pioneer on 'Hobbit' footage: 'A fabulous and brave step in the right direction'

Douglas Trumbull knows a little bit about movie visual effects. In his mid-20s, he worked with Stanley Kubrick to create the look and feel of the final frontier in 2001: A Space Odyssey. He later helped craft the effects for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the gorgeous futuristic visuals of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Last year, after nearly 30 years away from the Hollywood business, he collaborated with Terrence Malick for the symphonic visuals in The Tree of Life.

Trumbull has always been an innovator. For decades, he’s been tinkering with technology to enhance the audience experience, and he knows all about the recent hubbub over frame-rate after Peter Jackson unveiled the first extended footage of The Hobbit — An Unexpected Journey last week at CinemaCon. Jackson is shooting his Lord of the Ring prequels at 48 frames per second, twice the industry standard since the advent of talkies. But when audiences expressed skepticism about the new viewing platform — complaining of a glossy “TV soap opera” effect — one of Hollywood’s surest things suddenly found its Oscar-winning director asking for some faith and patience.

Trumbull must be chuckling a little to himself. Back in the early 1980s, he developed the Showscan system that filmed movies at 60 frames per second. Imagine if the CinemaCon crowd knew he was now plotting his own movie — a giant 3-D space epic shot digitally at 120 frames per second! The Oscar winning effects guru recently chatted with EW about his friend Peter Jackson’s ambitious movie, his own filmmaking, and the future of movies.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve been wrangling with these frame-rate debates for decades. Why did you initially look in this direction and what did you learn?
DOUGLAS TRUMBULL:
I got hooked on immersive cinema when I worked on 2001, which was initially shown on these Cinerama screens, which were all 90 feet wide and deeply curved. It was a spectacle that we don’t see today at all, even in IMAX. I was just an impressionable kid, and Kubrick was doing these lengthy sequences of pure visual effects — they called it the ultimate trip because it abandoned conventional cinematic wisdom in favor of a pure experience. That profoundly effected me, and I’m saying, “Holy sh–, this is so cool. I want to make movies like this, and I want to explore this cinematic language.” READ FULL STORY

Peter Jackson responds to complaints about 'The Hobbit' footage -- EXCLUSIVE

Peter Jackson says the negative reaction this week over new technology he’s using to shoot The Hobbit won’t hold him back, and he hopes moviegoers will give it a try and judge for themselves.

“Nobody is going to stop,” he said. “This technology is going to keep evolving.”

When Warner Bros. showed off 10 minutes of footage this week at CinemaCon, the annual convention for theater owners, many attendees complained that this version of Middle Earth looked more like a movie set than the atmospheric, textured world seen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

There was a lot of love for Jackson’s storytelling — the scenes of young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, from the British version of The Office) battling a trio of goblins, and Ian McKellen’s Gandalf exploring the tombs of the now-reanimated wringwraiths, received universal praise. Complaints only centered on the technology used to capture and project the footage.

Jackson hopes critics of the format will change their minds when they see the finished film, but notes that it will also be available in traditional formats in many theaters.

“At first it’s unusual because you’ve never seen a movie like this before. It’s literally a new experience, but you know, that doesn’t last the entire experience of the film–not by any stretch, [just] 10 minutes or so,” Jackson tells EW. “That’s a different experience than if you see a fast-cutting montage at a technical presentation.”

So what does he say to people who just decide they don’t like the glossy new look of the format he’s using?

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CinemaCon 2012: Dim reaction to high-def look of Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit'

Based on the deflated reaction to 10 minutes of footage shown today from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson’s state-of-the-art high-definition epic may or may not forever change the way we view movies, but it will definitely revolutionize the way we talk about that strange, hard-to-describe fluorescent look HD video can sometimes have.

There are two ways to look at the clips featured at the annual gathering of theater owners: As storytelling, the first half of Jackson’s two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is perfectly in sync with the tone and quality of his groundbreaking The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But as a platform for new cinematic technology, the clips received an underwhelming reaction at best. Read on for more details after the jump.

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'The Hobbit' has an extended preview at CinemaCon: Which scene would you want to see first?

Tomorrow, Warner Bros. will host their presentation at CinemaCon, and EW has confirmed that the studio will screen some material from Peter Jackson’s hotly-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — the first part of the Hobbit duology, which is totally a word now thanks to Hollywood. Warner is keeping mum about exactly which scenes from The Hobbit will screen, although an earlier report by The Hollywood Reporter claimed there would be about ten minutes of footage. Which gives us the opportunity to speculate. Besides the ominous teaser, this will be pretty much the first new video from Peter Jackson’s version of Middle-Earth in almost a decade. What would you want to see from The Hobbit? READ FULL STORY

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