February 5, 2013
Middle-earth fans who buy “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” when it is released on Blu-ray and DVD March 19 will be privy to a sneak preview of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” — the second movie in Peter Jackson’s planned trilogy based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien. But those hoping for an extended edition of the first film will have to wait until the holidays.
“An Unexpected Journey” will go on sale March 19 in three different combinations — a Blu-ray combo pack ($35.99), a Blu-ray 3-D combo pack ($44.95) and a DVD two-disc special edition ($28.98) — but all of them will feature the 169-minute theatrical version of the film, Warner Bros. announced Tuesday, adding that an extended edition will be available in time for the holidays.
So why would any self-respecting “Lord of the Rings” fan buy now instead of waiting for the scenes that didn’t make the theatrical cut? Warner Bros. is hoping to sweeten the deal by giving buyers an exclusive first look at “The Desolation of Smaug.” The event, hosted by Jackson, will be streamed live on March 24 at noon Pacific Time, and only holders of an UltraViolet code (found in the Blu-ray and DVD packs or issued by select digital retailers upon purchase) will have access.
The DVD and Blu-ray packs will also include Jackson’s behind-the-scenes production videos, from starting production and scouting locations to the film’s premiere in Wellington, New Zealand, last November.
The Blu-ray combo pack and two-disc special edition DVD releases of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” (Warmer Bros.)
The film received mixed reviews, partly due to Jackson’s controversial decision to show the movie in 48 frames per second — a high frame rate that packs in super-sharp details — at some theaters. Many viewers found the high frame rate jarring, but despite the critiques, the movie broke box office records its opening weekend, raking in nearly $85 million. And the film has earned $949 million worldwide.
The story is set some 60 years before the events of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and many of the actors from Jackson’s Oscar-winning adaptation of those books reprised their roles in “The Hobbit.” Ian McKellen donned Gandalf’s robes, Cate Blanchett wore Galadriel’s crown and Andy Serkis worked in a skin-tight motion-capture suit once more, using the technology he helped put on the map a decade ago with his performance as Gollum.
New to the franchise are Martin Freeman, who plays the film’s hero Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage, who plays dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield, and a dozen more actors who round out the company of dwarfs seeking to reclaim their homeland from a dragon. The dragon Smaug will be voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch in the upcoming films.
Here’s a look back at our coverage of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
EXCLUSIVE CLIP: Gandalf warns Saruman of a powerful evil
Happy birthday, Peter Jackson, and happy flying
INTERVIEWS & STORIES:
Martin Freeman on Bilbo’s courage, moral code
Ian McKellen,Tolkien guardian, acting wizard