After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
There seem to be two paths for monumentally popular pieces of art and entertainment once the initial excitement around them begins to wear off. Either they become a cultural touchstone, and become a part of the fabric of everyday communication, or they become a footnote, a piece of trivia relevant only as nostalgia and an occasional answer at bar trivia. I revisit Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy every few years, because I desperately want it to be the former and not the latter.
Since few guest hosts do ‘SNL’ unless they have something new and/or exciting to promote, it was inevitable that the show would do something tied into ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ when Martin Freeman joined the cast for a week. However, the end result was unexpected, endearing, and probably only meant to be fully appreciated by a small portion of the viewing audience: they sent ‘The Office’ to Middle-Earth.
Both ‘The Colbert Report’ and ‘The Hobbit’ franchises will come to an end in the next few weeks, and given Stephen Colbert’s unabashed love for all things Tolkien, we’ve seen a great deal of cross-promotion. The latest might be the most impressive yet however, as Colbert interviews none other than the dragon Smaug himself, live on the set!
Having gone on an unexpected journey and endured the desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson’s bloated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ finally comes to ‘The Battle of the Five Armies,’ which is less of a climax to this trilogy than a distended epilogue. After spending two movies and 330 minutes building up the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) as the ultimate antagonist, he’s eliminated from the story completely in the first ten minutes. He’s literally gone before the title appears onscreen.
This past weekend's latest 'SNL' with three-time host James Franco didn't quite bring anything new to the table, but will the series have better luck with fresh blood from Martin Freeman? The first promos for the 'Sherlock' star's guest turn have arrived, and don't worry, there's plenty of 'Hobbit' references and British-isms for everyone.
Before interviewing Lee Pace—who returns to Middle-earth as the Elvenking, Thranduil, in the upcoming ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’—I conducted a completely scientific poll (it was not scientific at all, I randomly asked my friends), asking “Where do you think Lee Pace is from?” Of the seven people I asked, only one knew that Pace was born in the United States. (This particular person guessed Nebraska, the correct answer is Oklahoma and/or Texas.) What’s most remarkable about this is just how shocked people look when they find out that Pace went to high school in Houston. (Honestly, this all seems like a compliment. An “actor from England” seems to have more prestige than “an actor from Houston.”)
Yes, it’s easy to decry the permeation of film marketing and our obsession with trailers and posters and previews, but let’s just be honest with ourselves here: The ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ trailer is going to an event that rivals the release of most movies. Think back to the good ‘ol days of 1998 (”A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...”) and remember how fans would buy tickets to ‘A Bug’s Life’ and ‘The Siege’ just to watch the teaser trailer for ‘Star Wars: Episode I.’ If you’re one of those people and want to replicate that experience, you’d better pre-order your ticket for ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ pretty soon.
It's being touted as the “definitive chapter” in the ‘Hobbit’ trilogy, and it promises to be the most epic conclusion, culminating in a huge, 45-minute battle sequence. But it's also been quite a journey, with three ‘Lord of the Rings’ films and now ending with the third ‘Hobbit’ film. For this farewell, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ will get an appropriately emotional goodbye with an end credits song performed by Billy Boyd, who played Pippin in all three ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. And now you can listen to the end credits song in full before the film hits theaters.