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Fans who bought the Blu-ray of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey got the chance today to get the first look at the next chapter, The Desolation of Smaug, in a livestream event hosted by Peter Jackson. We were there, Blu-ray Ultraviolet code in hand, to watch it all play out through the magic of the Internet and Weta (well, probably-- they tend to be involved in every cool Hobbit-related thing at this point).
To follow the livestream yourself, click here-- but you'll need the Ultraviolet redemption code from a Blu-ray copy of An Unexpected Journey to access it.
Read below for our liveblog of the new footage, questions answered by Peter Jackson, and much more!
2:54 In the moments where my Internet can actually keep up with the streaming feed, they appear to be playing selections from Howard Shore's score from The Desolation of Smaug. It sounds… like a Lord of the Rings movie. Points for consistency!
3:00 Time to start! I am beginning to wonder if the Internet is actually capable of making this a seamless experience.
3:01 And we're off! Starting with the trailer for An Unexpected Journey... which then cut off halfway through and was replaced by a three-minute countdown. Hmm...
3:03 The Unexpected Journey trailer is back! You're also encouraged to tweet your questions to Peter Jackson @TheHobbitMovie using the hashtag #AskPeterLive if you're so inclined.
3:05 "Far Over The Misty Mountains" is a damn fine song. Where was its Oscar nomination?
3:06 OK! Starting now with a behind-the-scenes tour from the actor who plays Nori in The Hobbit, introducing us to Peter Jackson.
3:07 Peter Jackson wants us to know that the future in New Zealand is amazing-- it's already March 25 there!
3:08 Now we're embarking on a tour of their post-production offices, which includes the performance capture stag, where two actors in motion-capture suits are fighting each other. The guy in charge mentions something about "Azog and the Orcs" and then Peter Jackson cuts him off shouting "spoiler alert!"
3:09 Jackson points out a poster of The Dam Busters, the 1955 movie that Jackson has been aiming to remake forever. Actor Jed Brophy even jokes that "someone should remake it," and suggests he'd have a role in it if the movie ever gets made. Scoop? Joke among friends? Who knows!
3:11 Jackson stops by the desk of a guy who's working on a design for Smaug, and brings the camera in close to show us... a very cartoon dragon. Maybe from a Disney movie? Another guy at a computer is working on motion designs for Smaug that are blatantly a T-Rex with wings. Pranks! So many pranks. Though technically we are here to get a look at the movie... so does this mean they're still not going to show us the real Smaug?
3:14 Now we're discussing the size of the TV in the edit room. This is hard-hitting stuff.
3:15 There's a poster of the Raquel Welch movie 1 Million Years B.C., which Jackson had on his wall growing up. That might be TMI?
3:16 OK, here's a bit of behind-the-scenes footage of the dwarves crossing the lake in Lake Town. It's a lot of green screen, as you'd guess.
3:17 Jackson is explaining how he plans for coverage of the scene, with multiple camera angles. We see several takes of the group in the boat, with Bilbo (Martin Freeman) standing up and saying he never should have left Bag End. "We have a saying in the Shire... we learn it from birth.., never venture East!" It is pretty remarkable to see how many different versions of the line Freeman offers.
3:19 There's a female voice offscreen responding "So tell me Master Hobbit..." could this be Evangeline Lilly's Tauriel? Is there another female character in the scene that I'm not remembering?
3:20 Agreement that Killi is "The hot dwarf." Glad we settled that.
3:21 Jackson is describing all of this to us while sitting on a couch, cross-legged and barefoot, wearing green pants. This seems like important information for you guys.
3:22 Now we see a more complete version of the scene, with multiple camera angles. "Goblins, trolls, wargs... none of that was in the contact," says Bilbo. And as it turns out that female voice was just an assistant on set-- the "So tell us Mr. Hobbit" line belongs to Luke Evans, as Bard the Bowman. And now Evans is here with a message for us!
3:23 Evans, who appears to be recording the video from inside a trailer on a set somewhere, says he's looking forward to returning to the set in June and putting the costume back on. Presuming he's talking about reshoots?
3:25 Jackson says his question would be for Jed, and would be "Why the silly hairstyle?" Not about his dwarf wig, but his regular hair. And now it's finally time for video questions! Let's get the Q&A part of this started!
3:25 The answers will include some new footage from Desolation of Smaug. Exciting!
3:26 First question is about Smaug as a middle movie, like Two Towers. Jackson says it's less of a challenge because they split into multiple storylines and you can raise the stakes for the characters. Accompanied by some footage of Lee Pace as Thranduil the elf, and some behind-the-scenes looks at him in a scene with Orlando Bloom as Legolas.
3:28 And here's a look at Stephen Fry as The Master in Lake Town! He is wearing a serious wig and mustache. "Someone has to take over the mantle of Orlando Bloom as the most desirable figure to appear in a Tolkien adaptation" Fry says in the behind-the-scenes footage.
3:29 Fry also provided a video expressing his apologies for not being on hand for the livestream. Fry says he's happy to be in The Hobbit 2 and possibly in 3-- is it really possible he still doesn't know if he'll be in it?
3:30 A question from two girls from China about Orlando Bloom comes with some behind-the-scenes footage of him goofing off on set, contrasted with a scene he shares with Pace in which Legolas, as always, is being uptight.
3:31 Orlando Bloom, contributes his own video, and asks Jackson what moment he's most looking fowrard to seeing onscreen. Jackson picks a moment of confrontation between Bilbo and Smaug, and we see a lot of teasing behind-the-scenes footage of Freeman on the set in the giant pile of gold you see in the top image here. Of course, no Smaug to be seen. What a tease!
3:32 Back to Stephen Fry, talking about how his character represents political satire from Tolkien about small-town government. He'll also be returning to set this summer to complete the film, and claims not to know how his character winds up in the end. What a mystery!
3:33 Now we're seeing some footage of Evans as Bard the Bowman, with Jackson describing him as a Robin Hood figure, and not knowing if he's a good guy or a bad guy. He does look quite dashing in that long leather coat.
3:34 Now a look at Evangeline Lilly's Tauriel, in quite a few fight scenes. She's a Woodland Elf, with less status than Legolas, and she's part of the guard. She looks pretty badass taunting an Orc with death.
3:35 A very cute video question comes from three brothers in Brazil who call the series "LOTR," as in "Lotter." They ask Jackson what his favorite weapon is, and he holds up Theoden's sword from Return of the King. It is apparently surprisingly heavy.
3:37 I'm enjoying the running joke of Fry just continuing to prattle on in his video from London, with Jackson cutting back to him when he feels like it. I think it's finally time for Fry to sign off. He sends all his love.
3:38 Finally time for Twitter questions, with Jackson answering a question about the most stressful elements of shooting.
3:40 Hey, a video question from Stephen Colbert! He wants to now if there will be a differentiation between two different kinds of elves. Honestly, Stephen Colbert knows way too much about all this for me to keep up.
3:40 Colbert has a frame map of Middle Earth to accompany his question.
3:41 Jackson counters with his own question about the size of the mugs given to guests on The Colbert Report. He's said the word "dishwasher" like 4 times. Not what I expected.
3:42 Does Peter Jackson edit barefoot? Indeed he does. But he does wear shoes on the set, for safety's sake.
3:43 Oh hey, it's Lee Pace on video! He reminds us that he plays Thranduil, and that his people hate the dwarves. But he does not have a question.
3:44 Jed is asked what torture he would put Jackson through as payback for what the actors endured. He picks the rotisseries over the giant fire in An Unexpected Journey.
3:46 Time for another guest video, this one from Billy Boyd, who played Pippin in the LOTR movies. He wants to know if there will be any new lands revealed in the next Hobbit movie. Something tells me he was put up to this.
3:47 Jackson says Mirkwood is the scariest land they'll explore in Smaug, which is surprising given that they actually go into a dragon's lair.
3:47 Here's a look at concept art of what Mirkwood will look like. Classic creepy fairy tale forest, with tiny dwarves making their way through it.
3:48 Now Evangeline Lilly is appearing on video, asking Jackson to describe the look of Thranduil's realm in the film. There is a bird chirping very loudly behind her.
3:49 Jackson shows off some concept art of Thranduil's kingdom, which looks like that same creepy forest but with some castle-like structure in there. The realm itself is underground, but there's light filtering in-- "We want it to be grand, like a cathedral. But this is not Rivendell. This is not the friendly land of elves that we're used to in these movies." Jed recalls his time spent as a dwarf, held prisoner in Thranduil's kingdom.
3:51 Now here's Dominic Monaghan to ask a question! How many hobbits are going to pop up on this thing?
3:51 Monaghan, who has gray hair in his beard and is making me feel very old, wants to know the best false rumor Jackson's ever heard about himself. Jackson answers that there was a rumor going around Wellington after LOTR that he was going to move his entire family on to a ship to avoid paying taxes.
3:53 Jackson answers a question about the Necromancer and confirms he'll play a bigger role in Smaug... but that's all he's saying. Very mysterious.
3:53 Now time for a look at the movie! Not the trailer though, since it's still being made. The trailer will be out this summer, but he's not saying on which movie.
3:54 The footage we'll see is from the expanded part of the story, which builds on the story of the Necromancer. Gandalf goes to investigate the origin of the blade that Radagast found in the first film.
3:55 The footage: Gandalf is alone in a dark and spooky tomb, with dark and spooky music backing him up. Radagast shows up and surprises him, but Radagast asks "Why am I here Gandalf? This is not a nice place to meet." Radagast ask who is buried there, and Gandalf says "If he had a name, it's been long since lost." Gandalf's staff reveals there are many other people buried in this tomb-- 9, in fact. The kicker is Gandalf saying "These tombs were opened from the inside."
3:57 "That's a little mystery that Gandalf is exploring in The Desolation of Smaug," says Jackson to wrap up the footage. He promises that the blogs will continue this year, and that this is effectively the first blog-- if you've watched his production video blogs, you'll recognize the similarities.
3:58 And that's it! Time for them to go eat breakfast.
3:59 OK, not quite it-- it ends with a lot of shots of behind-the-scenes footage, including dwarves in barrels and stuck in spider webs, and ending with an excellent Thorin line: "We are the dwarves of Erebor. We have come to reclaim our homeland." It ends with some sound effects that sound unmistakably like a dragon, but of course, no shots of the dragon to be had.