SAN DIEGO - Gollum dropped some f-bombs, Elijah Wood made a surprise appearance, and the slightest glimpse of Orlando Bloom dressed as Legolas elicited shrieks of pleasure from the J.R.R. Tolkien fans who packed into Hall H today specifically to catch a glimpse of footage from part one of what may yet grow into a full trilogy of films based on Tolkien's enduring classic, 'The Hobbit."
In short, it was a perfect Comic-Con moment.
Before I recap what happened, let's talk about what didn't. There was no demonstration of the 48 frames-per-second process that will be used for special engagements of "The Hobbit" when it opens this year, and the footage wasn't even shown in 3D. I think it was a poor decision all the way around to avoid revealing the process here, but I think Jackson's stated reasons are right. He knows that almost any conversation about the footage would focus on the technical if he did bring it, and good or bad, that's not really the point of bringing the material to show to the faithful. These are fans, and what they're concerned with is the content of the movie, not the mechanics of how it will be shown to them. Disappointed as I was, and frustrated to still have not seen a demonstration of the process, I do think it probably served them well in the end.
Warner Bros went all out this year, bringing a real sense of showmanship to their presentations. Obviously, one of the most anticipated moments for many people was a detailed look at what Peter Jackson's been up to with "The Hobbit," a two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved book, and they were rewarded with over twelve minutes of footage. The way the panel opened, though, was immediately immersive. Warner put in two screens flanking the stage, extending out into the audience, and as the lights went down, the song of the dwarves filled Hall H and the various images from the recently released banner filled the screens, surrounding us with characters both familiar and new.
It immediately set a mood, and then, in the center panel, a new "Hobbit" production diary began to play. You'll see it soon, I'm sure. Basically, it covered the last five days of the production, and it was carefully cut because much of the work in those last five days is for material that will appear in the second film, which is still well over a year away.