With The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arriving on DVD and Blu-ray on April 8, Jackson threw open the doors to his New Zealand post-production studio last night to preview the second movie in his new JRR Tolkien trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Jed Brophy (dwarf Ori in The Hobbit) and a barefoot Jackson roamed through the complex, joking about the England vs New Zealand cricket tussle, dropping in on motion-capture work for Azog and showing off his vast collection of movie posters, including The Dam Busters, One Million Years BC and a "walk of fame" comprised of classic James Bond six sheets. Live and Let Die was the first 007 film Jackson saw, in case you were wondering.
Jackson and Brophy settled into the cutting room with editor Jabez Olssen to show off a few scenes and take questions through Twitter and pre-recorded video messages. Original Lord of the Ringsers Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan called in, as did fanatical Tolkien fan Stephen Colbert.
First up was a glimpse at the dwarves' journey to Laketown by boat. Jackson played through each of his takes of Martin Freeman's Bilbo getting increasingly agitated on board. "I should never have left Bagend," he said. "We have a saying in the Shire, we learn it from birth, you never venture East." Jackson noted that Freeman offers up something slightly different with each new take, but it's clear that he's still keeping intact the fussy Bilbo we all know and love.
"So tell me master hobbit - why did you venture east?" quizzed Luke Evans's Bard the Bowman, in our first look at the character. Jackson described him as "Robin Hood-ish", adding that the fun of the character is in "not really knowing if he's a good or bad guy".
Stephen Fry's Master of Laketown, Evangeline Lilly's elf Tauriel (created especially for the films) and Orlando Bloom's returning Legolas were also shown in footage. The Master is as obnoxious as Fry has promised - loud, rude and with an unsightly combover. Fans may have question marks over the introduction of Tauriel, but she's a leather-clad, feisty elf comfortable battling orcs alongside Legolas. As Jackson says: "Not an elf to be messed with."
The footage shown zipped through Rivendell, Mirkwood and Laketown, with much of it still to be filled out by the VFX team on green screens. Jackson showed a scene of Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) encountering Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) as he descends into a dark cavern housing the Witch-king of Angmar's tomb.
It's a spooky and eerie scene, more similar in tone to the Rings trilogy than the brighter, breezier Unexpected Journey, and shows how Jackson and co are going about using Tolkien's appendices for the films.
Jackson wrapped up his live presentation with an action-heavy reel of scenes from the upcoming Desolation of Smaug, ending with the sign-off: "We are the dwarves of Erebor, and we have come to reclaim our homeland."
6 more tidbits we picked up from The Hobbit presentation:
- The confrontation between Smaug and Bilbo is the sequence getting Jackson the most excited. "It is probably the highlight of this movie. It's such an iconic Tolkien scene," he said.
- Jackson's favourite LOTR weapon? Theoden's sword. "I love the design of it, it's based on a Viking or early Anglo Saxon sword," he said. "It's very, very heavy. This is a real sword."
- Jackson edits barefoot but always wears shoes on set (for health and safety reasons).
- The Necromancer will play a larger role here than in the first Hobbit movie.
- Strangest untrue rumour Jackson has heard about himself? That he was going to move his family onto a boat just outside New Zealand's waters in order to avoid playing tax.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer will arrive in the summer (Jackson hinted that it'll be before Man of Steel), and the video blogs will start back up again.
Watch Digital Spy's interview with Peter Jackson below:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 8.