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When Peter Jackson and the folks at Warner Bros. announced that The Hobbit would be split up into three movies instead of the announced two, many fans were outraged. After all, the original J.R.R. Tolkien novel was only about 300 pages - far shorter than the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was made into the same number of films. But rather than just being a simple cash grab, it turns out that what is actually planned for the new trilogy's finale, The Battle of the Five Armies, is the most epic big screen Middle-earth war we've seen yet.
Talking with Entertainment Weekly as part of a feature about the final Hobbit films, Peter Jackson revealed that The Battle of the Five Armies will feature a 45-minute sequence where the titular factions go to war over the treasure of Erebor - the one that had been guarded by Smaug for years and years. As you can imagine, the sequence took a great deal of time to set-up, not just because of the logistics or visual effects involved, but also because so many different kinds of creatures and races will be involved. Said Jackson,
"We have dwarves and men and elves and orcs, all with different cultures, with different weapons, and different shields and patterns and tactics."
To help you understand just how massive the scale of this battle will be, just take a gander of this chart that Jackson drew up, with the colors of the arrows, circles and pie charts all representing the armies involved in the fight:
As EW points out, this graph once again shows eagles sweeping in to join the action of the final battle, which might worry some fans who saw the Eagles flying to save the day at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy being a dues ex machina. Jackson has promised that this definitely won't be in the case in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, however. Instead, they'll actually have a legitimate role to play as everything goes down. Said the director,
"Tolkien uses eagles in a way that can be kind of awkward because they tend to show up out of the blue and change things pretty quickly," says the director. "So here they’re just part of the plan, not the saviors. I mean, I do realize that if the eagles had just been able to bring Frodo to Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings and let him drop the ring in, those movies would have been much shorter."
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will be in theaters on December 17th.