In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the scale illusion was accomplished by placing Hobbit or Dwarf actors and actresses further away from the camera than Sir Ian McKellen, but still live on the same set. This time, however, the illusion had to be accomplished by having the other actors and actresses on a completely different set, while McKellen performed his, all alone, on a greenscreen set, with only an earpiece connecting him to the performance being provided by the rest of the cast. McKellen ended up feeling lonely and frustrated. To cheer him up, the cast and crew snuck into the tent, in which he stayed, during breaks, and decorated it with mementos from The Lord of the Rings films (mainly old props and tapestries from Rivendell and Lothlorien), as well as fresh fruit and flowers.
Asked how many wizards there are, Gandalf says there are five, naming Saruman, Radagast, and himself, then saying he can't remember the names of the other two, merely saying, "The two blues." Their names, Alatar and Pallando, appear in the book Unfinished Tales, a collection of J.R.R. Tolkien ideas and half-manuscripts edited into book form by his son Christopher Tolkien. The filmmakers didn't have rights to use material from that book, so the two blue wizards remain unnamed in the film.
The first roar we hear from Smaug, in the first scene of Smaug's attack on Erebor, is actually a sound bite of the Special Effects Director's seven-year-old daughter "roaring". It was manipulated and corrected to sound like a dragon, and was put into the movie.
Thranduil, the father of Legolas, first appeared in The Hobbit book simply as "The Elven King", with no mention of his real name. It is only in The Lord of the Rings, when Legolas first appears in the book, that he is identified as the Son of Thranduil of Mirkwood. When Legolas enters Lothlorien in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Haldir greets him in Elvish as "Legolas Thranduillion", which is Sindarin for "Legolas, Son of Thranduil".
The sequence between Bilbo and Gollum was filmed in complete takes, with the actors performing the entire scene from beginning to end like a stage play over the course of two weeks. It was at the beginning of production, and Peter Jackson wanted to help Martin Freeman settle into the role of Bilbo.
Peter Jackson is the third director, after James Cameron and Christopher Nolan, to make two films that have grossed more than one billion dollars worldwide (as of April 2013, this movie grossed $1,016,944,389 worldwide).
Frodo (Elijah Wood), Saruman (Sir Christopher Lee), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) are all returning characters from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, though none of them actually appear in the book "The Hobbit". This is the same for Radagast (Sylvester McCoy), who is only mentioned in The Hobbit, but does not actually appear until The Lord of the Rings. Conversely however, Radagast was omitted from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The method of creating Hobbit feet was changed for this film. For The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the prosthetic feet only fit over the actors' and actresses' feet, requiring them to be re-applied after periods of walking in them. For this film, the prosthetic went all the way up to their (Martin Freeman, Ian Holm, and Elijah Wood) knees.
Saruman, Gandalf, and Radagast are also known as "the white", "the gray", and "the brown", respectively. These nicknames match straightly with their clothes and hair. In addition, Saruman is the only one not having a hat or cloak over his head, a symbol of his status, as leader of the wizards.
Dwalin uses two large battle axes in combat. Graham McTavish suggested to Peter Jackson that the axes each be named after Emily Brontë's dogs, "Grasper" and "Keeper". Jackson went for the idea, and Dwalin's axes were engraved with both names in Dwarvish runes. He also named his knuckledusters "Insult" and "Injury".
This is the first Middle-Earth film, directed by Peter Jackson, that does not have any speaking characters that are ordinary humans, known in the work of J.R.R. Tolkien as the "race of Men". Some men appear in the opening flashback, but do not speak. Hobbits are technically descended from the race of Men, and Wizards are strictly not men, even though they appear so.
In the second trailer, Gandalf can be heard saying, "Home is behind you, the world ahead." This is a quote from the original The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R. Tolkien for the book. It is part of a poem which Bilbo sings upon his departure from The Shire. However, in the movies, it is a line Pippin sings to Lord Denethor in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
Ori, the Scribe, is the Dwarf that wrote the book that Gandalf reads in the Mines of Moria, in The Fellowship of the Ring. His body is also seen in the scene. Balin is the Dwarf whose grave is featured in the same scene.
Sir Christopher Lee (Saruman) once commented that he would have loved to voice the Dragon Smaug, in a film adaptation of "The Hobbit". Instead, he voiced the dragon-like Jabberwocky in Alice in Wonderland (2010).
Azog was a last minute digital addition to the film. He was originally an actor in prosthetics, but Peter Jackson found the effect lacking presence, and had Weta create a digital character, motion-captured by actor Manu Bennett, and insert the character over the previously-filmed live Azog footage. The original Azog appears in the film as Yazneg, the ill-fated Orc Lieutenant.
J.R.R. Tolkien was especially influenced by Norse mythology when he named the Dwarves. In the literal work "Gylfaginning", which is dated to circa 1220 A.D., many character names that are featured in The Lord of the Rings franchise, are named. The following names were Dwarves in Norse mythology: Dvalinn, Bífurr, Báfurr, Bömburr, Nóri, Óri, Óinn, Gandalfr, Fíli, Kíli, Glóinn, Dóri, Þorinn (pronounced as Thorin). Even Gandalf (Gandalfr) is named after a Dwarf from Norse mythology.
This movie is the first feature film to be shot and projected at forty-eight frames per second, twice as fast as the industry standard of twenty-four frames per second. The intention of this, was to provide the film a smoother, more realistic motion, with reduced strobing. This is particularly beneficial when viewing the film in 3-D, as the higher frame rate helps to correctly synchronize the images for each eye. There were controversies about the frame rate, with many viewers complaining about the poor quality in certain theaters, due to improper equipment and inexperienced projectionists not knowing how to make proper adjustments.
The opening scenes, in which Sir Ian Holm plays the older Bilbo, do not appear in the book, which is told in present-time, not as a flashback. Shortly after the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Holm recorded similar scenes, this time as Frodo, for inclusion in a new boxed set version of the BBC Radio version of The Lord of the Rings.
This movie went through several stages of pre-production hell, including separate legal disputes between New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, and Tolkien family members, which complicated production. When MGM finally moved the project forward in 2008, more complications ensued when MGM entered bankruptcy, and froze production, causing Director Guillermo del Toro to step down after three years of pre-production. Later, it was almost cast out of New Zealand, when several unions and guilds blacklisted the project, and shooting was delayed again, while Peter Jackson recovered from surgery from a perforated ulcer.
Jed Brophy, who plays Nori, is the only Dwarf who also appears in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, although this is the first time we see his face. If you listen to the Writers' and Director commentary on the Extended Edition of The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson identifies him several times as playing various orcs and background people, including Sharku the Warg Rider, the orc that Aragorn fights in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)' cliff scene.
Robert Kazinsky was cast as Fili, and had filmed a few scenes, but left the project and returned to England about a month after filming started, due to personal reasons. He was replaced by Dean O'Gorman.
In 2009, an Internet rumor linked David Tennant to the role of Bilbo Baggins, after he and Peter Jackson appeared at Comic Con. Tennant and Jackson denied this rumor, stating he was never under consideration for the role. However, in 2010, Tennant was considered for the role of Thranduil, but had to turn it down when his then-girlfriend (later wife) Georgia Moffett became pregnant, which prevented him from taking part in film's lengthy New Zealand shooting schedule.
The Lord of the Rings films were all longer as they progressed (one hundred seventy-eight minutes, one hundred seventy-nine minutes, and two hundred one minutes). Conversely, The Hobbit films were all shorter as they progressed (one hundred sixty-nine minutes, one hundred sixty-one minutes, and one hundred forty-four minutes). (These times, however, do not take the Extended Editions into account.)
This film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) were filmed concurrently, and wrapped on July 6, 2012, after two hundred sixty-six days of principal photography.
Peter Jackson was hospitalized in January 2011 for a perforated stomach ulcer, which just so happened to be one of the contributing causes of J.R.R. Tolkien's death. Luckily, it was caught in time, and surgery went smoothly, with the only impact on production being pushing back principal photography by a month, so Jackson could recover, before putting himself under three more years of constant stress.
In spite of the quote "Out of the frying pan and into the fire", if you look closely in the climatic sequence, the area is shaped to look like that of a frying pan, with the tree hanging over the cliff face resembling a handle.
When Bilbo points his sword at Gollum, and Gollum gawks at it and backs away in fear, this is evident to the scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), where Frodo (Elijah Wood) threatens Gollum with the same sword his uncle used, saying the line, "This is Sting. You've seen it before, haven't you?" The film shows that Gollum has seen Sting prior Frodo's time.
This is not the first of Peter Jackson's pet projects where he has asked Guillermo del Toro to direct. Del Toro was also offered to helm the now troubled Halo movie, but he turned it down to direct his own pet project Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008). Del Toro did accept the chance to direct this film, but after years stuck in pre-production limbo, he left to pursue other projects.
In 2008, when New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers refused to pay the Tolkien Estate the money that they owed them (including for The Lord of the Rings). What followed, was two and a half years of everything spiralling out of control, not only sending the film into development Hell, but causing Guillermo del Toro to leave production after having been attached to it. To make matters worse, these legal issues got so bad, that it would have taken the production out of New Zealand entirely. Only when Peter Jackson decided to come back to the director's chair in late 2009, was everything sorted out.
Some scenes of Robert Kazinsky as Fíli are still in the film. When the Dwarves begin singing "Misty Mountains", Fíli is in the foreground, and although he is in shadow, his face is still noticeably different from the way it looks in the rest of the film.
Philippa Boyens expressed regret that Guillermo del Toro's version of the film remained unmade. She revealed that it would have had a different script and visual elements, and would more closely have resembled a fairy tale. Boyens stated that the most significant script change was to Bilbo's characterization: "It shifted and changed into someone who, rather than being slightly younger and more innocent in the world, once had a sense of longing for adventure, and has lost it and become fussy and fusty."
It was to decided to CGI Azog, Bolg, and the orcs, with the decision with Bolg being made so suddenly, that whole sequences had to be re-shot, which is why in the trailers, Azog is the one chasing the Dwarves, but in the film, it's Bolg.
Radagast (Sylvester McCoy, né Percy Kent-Smith) allows animals to hide in various parts of his robes. While his friendship with animals is consistent with the book, this may also be a nod to Kent-Smith's early stage act, Sylveste McCoy (from which he took his professional name), in which he stuffed ferrets down his trousers.
During the early phases of writing The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien considered naming the Wizard (Gandalf) Thorin. As a reference to this, Peter Jackson wrote a scene where Bilbo accidentally calls Gandalf "Thorin". The scene was filmed, but later abandoned, because Peter Jackson thought it may look stupid and in the movie, and confuse the audience.
The production team returned to the same shooting location for Hobbiton as they used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The land is part of a farm, which the owners allowed to be transformed into the Hobbiton set by The Lord of the Rings production crew in the late 1990s. After filming wrapped on the first trilogy, the farm's owners turned the land into a Tolkien tourism spot, offering guided tours of the Hobbiton set. With the crew from The Hobbit trilogy making improvements and additions to the aging Hobbiton set, the farm owners were happy to temporarily close down their tourism business, so filming could take place there again.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) asked the New Zealand government to investigate allegations, that twenty-seven animals used for the film, died due to poor living conditions. Claims also include: sheep falling into sinkholes, chickens being mauled by unsupervised dogs, a horse falling over a steep embankment, and another one being left on the ground for three hours after being hobbled. PETA says that instead of "vainly defending himself", Peter Jackson should be giving a "firm assurance that this will never happen again". They also called Jackson a "CGI master", stating that he could easily make convincing CGI animals, instead of using actual ones. Peter Jackson denied these allegations in a press conference several hours before the premiere of the film, stating that there was "absolutely none; no mistreatment, no abuse". Warner Brothers also released a statement, which joined Jackson in denying the allegations, questioning the timing, and claiming the primary source of the allegations could be traced to freelance animal wranglers, who were dismissed by the production over a year earlier "for cause".
The film used a shooting and projection frame rate of forty-eight frames per second, becoming the first feature film with a wide release to do so. The new projection rate was advertised as "High Frame Rate" to the general public. However, the majority of cinemas projected the film at the industry standard twenty-four frames per second, after the film was converted.
Sir Ian McKellen admitted that he was initially so miserable having to act in tedious visual effects shots, that he seriously gave thought to dropping out. He even considered asking John Hurt to offer himself as a replacement.
The looks of at least three Dwarves ended up being quite different in the film, than the production team had originally planned. At first, Thorin had a very long beard (like in the book) while Kili and Bofur both had more prosthetics on their head. The producers decided Thorin's beard needed to be trimmed, so that Richard Armitage could better show emotion, and they wanted the faces of James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner to be more recognizable.
Every actor playing a Dwarf wore a "fat suit" of some variety during filming. The production crew made three types of these suits for the Dwarves. Some actors wore a "muscle suit", and others wore a standard "fat suit". However, only Stephen Hunter donned what was called the "extreme fat suit", for the role of Bombur.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
While filming the Battle of Azanulbizar, Richard Armitage smacked himself in the face so hard with his shield, that he managed to bite completely through his lower lip. The injury can actually be seen in the finished film. When Azog holds up Thror's severed head, and Thorin screams, the left side of his lower lip is swollen, and there is a pool of blood between his gums and his lip.
The ghost who attacks Radagast in Dol Guldur is the Witch-King of Angmar, the same who stabs Frodo on Weathertop in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). The Necromancer spotted by Radagast is the first sign of Sauron's re-manifestation in Middle-Earth.
The Goblin that Gollum kills, was played by an actor wearing an animatronic head, and then covered in full-body prosthetic make-up. Andy Serkis was so aggressive in hitting the forehead with the rock, that the electronics inside were broken, and had to be repaired for more takes the next day.
When Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves arrive to the edge of the cliff, just before the fight against Azog and his Orcs, a familiar landscape can be seen in the distance. This landscape is the same seen by Merry, Pippin, and Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), when these three see Saruman's Uruk-hai armies moving to Helm's Deep.
When Gandalf, Bilbo, and the Dwarves arrive at Rivendell, the Wizard mentions it's also known as "Imladris". This name is a word in Elvish (a fictional language created by J.R.R. Tolkien) and both names mean "deep valley of the cleft". Rivendell was established and ruled by Elrond in the Second Age of Middle-Earth, about four or five thousand years previous to The Lord of the Rings events.
The riddle competition at the end, between Bilbo and Gollum, is inspired by the Norse legend of the riddle competition between the wise giantess Vafþrúðnir, and Odin, the Mayor god in Germanic Mythology (who is also an inspiration for Gandalf). Bilbo wins the competition by asking what lies in his pocket, a question, to which, only he could know the answer. This is exactly the same way Odin wins over Vafþrúðnir: by asking "what did Odin whisper in his dying son Baldr's ear?" A question, to which, only he would know the answer.
This is the second film, in which Saruman considers a fellow wizard to be mentally inept due to plant consumption. In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), he suggests that pipeweed has slowed Gandalf's mind. Here, he suggests mushrooms have rendered Radagast a fool. However, Saruman is in league with Sauron. Therefore, his words are nothing more than mean-spirited insults, and not to be taken seriously.
When Elrond examines, and gives the sword Orcrist to Thorin, on the middle finger of his left hand can be seen a ring. This ring is Vilya, one of the three rings given to the Elves at the beginning of the Second Age of the Middle-Earth, and seen in the prologue of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). Vilya is a word in Quenya, a fictional language created by J.R.R. Tolkien, and means "air". The ring was originally given by Celebrimbor, son of Curufin (himself fifth son of Fëanor) to Gil-Galad, last King of the Noldor, but passed to Elrond after Gil-Galad was killed at the Battle of Dagorlad.
The explanation of Elrond about Orcrist and Glamdring, the swords found in the troll cave by Gandalf and Thorin, is suddenly cut by a dialogue between Bilbo and Balin. Orcrist and Glamdring were forged in the First Age of the Middle Earth for Ecthelion and king Turgon respectively, to fight against the Balrogs sent by Morgoth (the first Dark Lord before Sauron) to rule the Middle Earth.
Barry Humphries, spontaneously ad-libbed the Goblin King's line "That'll do it", before he is killed by Gandalf. Peter Jackson greatly appreciated the unscripted humorous line, as he was concerned about the level of violence in the scene.
The answers to riddles proposed by Gollum and Bilbo, including the first riddle said by Gollum after the game, are these: -1st - Teeth. -2nd - A mountain. -3rd - Wind. -4th - Eggs. -5th - Time. -6th - The One Ring.
When Bilbo asks him "What have you lost?", Gollum, distraught over his lost of the One Ring cries out, "Mustn't ask us! Not its Business!" This was the same words he used in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), when Frodo asks him about his background.
Gollum cries three times in this film. First, when he loses the game of riddles, after Bilbo says, "Two guesses at once, wrong both times." Gollum whimpers in defeat as he lands on his side. The second time was when he realizes that he has lost the One Ring, wailing "My precious is lost!" When Bilbo asks him what he has lost, and Gollum turns towards him momentarily, his eyes are red, due to crying. The third, and final time he cries in the movie, was when Bilbo, wearing the ring, invisible, is about to kill him, Gollum sheds a tear. This is the first and only film that shows Gollum shedding a tear.