Follow me into the land of possible spoilers. Not, of course, of the story of The Hobbit. The dragon dies. Bilbo finds riches. Goes home and kick his jerk relatives out of his house. You know.
No, follow me into the land of knowing, possibly, where in the story of The Hobbit The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will leave us, before we wait a year for another installment.
It all has to do with the giant image scroll released ages ago (i.e., July), before San Diego Comic Con, when the idea of a third Hobbit movie was but a twinkle in Peter Jackson‘s eye. It featured ten separate scenes from the book (they even loosely corresponded to chapters in the book), including Beorn, Mirkwood, and barrels bobbing along the river. Recently, Warner Bros. released an official iOS app for the movie, featuring plenty of art and behind the scenes info. It also contains the giant scrolling image.
But, as The One Ring.net points out, it’s not the same image. It’s been shortened by three scenes, and had a scene tacked on.
Instead of Bilbo in a tree above wargs with eagles in the far distance (followed by Beorn, cobwebbed Mirkwood, and barrels), the eagles are much closer, and Gandalf and Thorin are about to spring into action. It’s a widening elaboration on the chapter Out of the Frying Pan – Into the Fire. The One Ring.net believes this is evidence that the ending of the first film in the Hobbit series has been recut to have it occur earlier in the plot of the books, to leave more story for the second and third movies.
I can’t say this isn’t a likely ending point. In fact, it’s not a bad moment to end the first part of the story: Bilbo’s just impressed the dwarves and Gandalf for the first time (in part because of the new powers afforded to him by the newly found Ring of power), and we’ve had a nice dramatic action sequence to cap off the narrative arc of the film. It’s not definitive evidence in my (metaphorical) book, but it’s an interesting change to some art that could have been easily copied entire, and it’s not simply a crop job. Somebody had to photoshop that new panel together.
One does wonder, however, why Lee Pace‘s Thranduil has been showing up in art if we’re not going to get to Mirkwood in the first installment of the story. Evangeline Lilly‘s Elven guard captain was also indicated to make an appearance by the end of the film, so we’ll have to wait and see if we get to see her Tauriel this December… or next December.