The Hobbit is a film series consisting of three epic fantasy adventure films directed by Peter Jackson. They are based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Portions of the trilogy are also adapted from the appendices to The Return of the King, which expand on the story told in The Hobbit. The films are subtitled An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
The screenplay was written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro, who was originally chosen to direct before his departure from the project. The films take place in the fictional world of Middle-earth sixty years before the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, and follow hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is convinced by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to accompany thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). The films also expand upon certain elements from the novel and other source material, such as Gandalf's investigation at Dol Guldur, and the pursuit of Azog and Bolg, who seek vengeance against Thorin and his ancestors.
The films feature an ensemble cast that also includes James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace and Luke Evans, with several actors reprising their roles from The Lord of the Rings, including Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis. The films also feature Manu Bennett, Sylvester McCoy, Stephen Fry, Mikael Persbrandt, Barry Humphries, and Lawrence Makoare. Also returning for production, among others, were illustrators John Howe and Alan Lee, art director Dan Hennah, cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, and composer Howard Shore, while props were again crafted by Weta Workshop, with visual effects managed by Weta Digital.
The first film in the series premiered at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand on 28 November 2012. One hundred thousand people lined the red carpet on Courtenay Place, and the entire event was broadcast live on television in New Zealand and streamed over the Internet. The second film of the series premiered at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California on 2 December 2013. The third and final film premiered at Leicester Square in London on 1 December 2014.
Although The Hobbit was originally made as a two-part film, on 30 July 2012, Jackson confirmed plans for a third film, turning his adaptation of The Hobbit into a trilogy. According to Jackson, the third film would make extensive use of the appendices that Tolkien wrote to expand the story of Middle-Earth (published in the back of The Return of the King). While the third film will largely make use of footage originally shot for the first and second films, it will require additional filming as well. The Battle of the Five Armies will take place in the third film. The second film was retitled The Desolation of Smaug and the third film was titled There and Back Again in August 2012. On April 24, 2014, the third film was renamed The Battle of the Five Armies. On the title change, Jackson said, "There and Back Again felt like the right name for the second of a two film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo's arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced—after all, Bilbo has already arrived "there" in the Desolation of Smaug". Shaun Gunner, the chairman of The Tolkien Society, supported the decision: "‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ much better captures the focus of the film but also more accurately channels the essence of the story."