Fans at Comic-Con 2012 in San Diego finally got a glimpse into Peter Jackson's hugely anticipated two-part prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy Saturday -- and by all accounts they weren't disappointed.
Jackson -- whose The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King alone won 11 Academy Awards, including Oscars for best director and best picture -- showed 12-plus minutes of the two coming films that encompassed the moment when Bilbo Baggins first finds the ring.
The movie adaptation of the book by J.R.R. Tolkien will be broken into two parts. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released in theaters in December, with The Hobbit: There and Back Again to follow one full year later, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Tolkien's book tells the story of how Bilbo Baggins, uncle to Elijah Wood's Frodo Baggins, originally comes across the ring and its creepy owner, Gollum. In Jackson's adaptation, Bilbo is played by Martin Freeman, who is perhaps best known for his roles as Dr. John Watson in television's Sherlock and as Tim Canterbury in the British version of The Office.
The 12-plus minutes of footage screened at Comic-Con were pulled from both Hobbit movies and included appearances by Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Andy Serkis as Gollum, and Elijah Wood as Frodo. Each of the three reprises his role from the Rings trilogy. Cate Blanchett also is back as Galadriel the elf.
Jackson made news in the past by announcing he'd film the two movies in 3-D and at 48 frames per second, which is double the speed directors normally use. Complaints were made that the method was too realistic. In any case, the Comic-Con screening Saturday was shown in the standard 24 frames per second.
The website i09 reported the beginning of the footage showed a clip of a meeting of dwarves gathered around the table. Readers of The Hobbit will remember Bilbo's contract with Gandalf and the dwarves to break into the lair of Smaug the dragon and -- well, that's probably enough.
Jackson and some of the stars of The Hobbit held a question-and-answer session with audience members following the screening, which surely went by too quickly for fans of the Tolkien franchise. Among the revelations about the movie was that because Tolkien didn't have many female characters, the film adaptations took a few liberties by making Gladriel the most powerful being in Middle Earth. Much of the movie is a buildup to her story.
Philippa Boyens, one of the film's writers, also knew that was an issue that needed to be addressed. A behind-the-scenes featurette introduced fans to Tauriel, another elvin woman, according to the Los Angeles Times.
She brings a very powerful feminine energy into the film, Boyens said. We believe that it's completely within the spirit of Tolkien. ... I think you guys are going to fall in love with her.
Based on the reaction so far, Boyens might as well have been referring to the entire movie.