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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’s cliffhanger ending is one of the most climactic finishes to a Middle Earth film. Why is Peter Jackson torturing us?

At a press event attended by Hypable, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson was asked about the decision to end Smaug where they did, and if the decision was affected by turning The Hobbit into a three-part movie.

“We did talk about it a lot. There was certainly a lot of discussion about it,” Jackson admitted. “It was just an opportunity. It was just a chance – it’s very rare that you get to do films back to back whether it’s two or three films and to be able to just end on a cliffhanger.”

Playing with the press, Jackson assured everyone that it’s worth the wait until next year. “We have shot – I do know what happens in the next film [laughter], and you’ll see that in a year’s time.”

He also explained that viewers shouldn’t complain, because other cliffhangers have made you wait much longer. “I remember when I was – I must’ve been 17 or 18 years old – I remember The Empire Strikes Back had a big cliffhanger ending and it was like three years before the next one came out.” By comparison, “We’re being pretty generous. And actually, as a Breaking Bad fan I was hanging out a long time for that last half season this year. That was a big gap too.”

‘Desolation of Smaug’s’ ending

Spoiler warning. The Desolation of Smaug’s ending occurs after the titular dragon escapes from the Lonely Mountain and flies towards Laketown where he plans to wreck havoc. The camera then cuts back to Bilbo who asks himself what they’ve gotten themselves into. Cut to black.

Jackson revealed in a recent interview with EW that before they split the movie into three films, Part 1 and Part 2 were going to be split right after Bilbo and the Dwarves see Bard the Bowman’s silhouette in the distance. The second movie would’ve picked up with their journey into Laketown.

There and Back Again the final film in the trilogy, opens in theaters December 2014.

  • http://www.doctorwho-fansite.blogspot.com/ James Grayh

    I didn’t realise there was scandal or disappointment at a cliffhanger ending. I went into the film screening yesterday assuming there would be a cliffhanger, much like I did when I walked into the HP Deathly Hallows Part 1 screening.

    • acafripce1981

      visit GATVERcom if you would like to watch this movie online

      • http://www.doctorwho-fansite.blogspot.com/ James Grayh

        No thanks. Goodbye.

  • Ultron

    I thought it was fine but it should’ve just ended with Smaug saying “I am death.” Bilbo’s line was a tad awkward. They really should’ve just killed Smaug in this movie though. They had the time for it if they took out other things.

    • gabebigdog

      I agree. Right after he said “I am death” it should have ended.

    • degorath

      they could have killed him but i think giving his death a good 40 mins plus the fight in laketown will be far more memorable

  • Brendan

    The reason the cliffhanger bothered me was more because of the nature of the movie as a whole; every action sequence, while gorgeous and worth my money, was undeniably way too long, WAY too long. This movie could have been 90 minutes and still accomplished everything that it did. The Smaug scene meandered without plot development for almost half an hour and then the whole movie just ended. It was like…imagine the DH part 1 ending, only the shot of Voldemort shooting lightning into the air lasts for 5 straight minutes, and the climactic epicness of it turns into boredom and exhaustion, and THEN it cuts to black.

    Granted, Smaug was f*cking glorious, and I will see the movie again just to experience his stupendousness again. But take away the dedicated cast and beautiful visuals…I was very disappointed with this movie.

    • wanderingwarrior

      I thought the pace of the film was actually really good. I agree certain sequences became rather tired. We all know Legolas can kill, so telling us again is kinda boring. I would have liked to see a more 3 Dimensional (hah) Esgaroth… But I think the film had JUST ENOUGH Smaug to not be obnoxious.

      • Brendan

        I’m conflicted about it. Another thing about the Smaug scene, and the whole movie, is that the longer action scenes went on, the more cartoony and staged they became. Which was awesome, a lot of fun to watch, as cartoons are, but I do miss the grittier feel of LOTR. For example, those spiders were terrifyingly animated, but the scene wasn’t as scary as Shelob because the tone of the movie made it less real and more obligatory-action-sequence-where-everyone-is-eventually-fine. I still think the Smaug scene was 10 minutes too long haha just my opinion though, and he was fantastic.

        • stargazer

          I haven’t read all the comments yet, so I don’t know if this has been addressed already, but I agree. The longer the confrontation with Smaug went on, the more ridiculous I felt it became until I was wondering why in the world such a cunning creature as Smaug didn’t see he was being set up and just set fire to the entire mountain like he did in the book, and THEN go and raze Lake Town (again, like he did in the book). Yes, I loved most of the additions in Desolation of Smaug, and I know this final sequence made it so that the dwarves did something besides force Bilbo to go it alone, but really? Was all that necessary?

          As for the cliffhanger itself, I was frustrated mainly because there was so much running around and getting nothing done in the mountain itself and the payoff (Smaug vs. Laketown or at least seeing a decent spray of fire out in the open as opposed to cramped in the caves) did not occur.

          • Quantum

            That whole ending with trying to melt the dragon in the gold… moronic and stupid. Super cartoonish. Unfortunate.

          • Skirmich

            Melt? I thought they wanted to make the gold to seize Smaug when the Gold finally became solid. I don’t seriously think they wanted to “Melt” the Dragon… He spray fire… from its chest… Heat…. Nahh

          • Passerby

            I was expecting them to somehow hypnotize Smaug, do to his attraction to gold. You could even see his gaze become still and emotionless, captured by its beauty…

            To be honest, I almost expected the statue to be a gigantic dwarf-golem, maybe a security mechanism of old.

        • Gibscreen

          Lotr gritty? That’s adorable.

          • Brendan

            Hey I said grittiER. Put it next to the Hobbit, there’s a BIG tonal difference, and I preferred LoTR.

          • Yuge

            I agree this movie was less gritty and more fanciful than the Lord of the Rings, but I think it works. I’m glad the tone isn’t exactly the same because the tone wasn’t the same in the books. I feel like they kept the Hobbit movies just close enough to the LotR movies to feel like the same world, but just different enough to reflect the differences of the books.

        • wanderingwarrior

          The book is pretty jaunty.
          As for the LOTR films IMO they were FAR TOO DARK and missed a lot of the point of the books. Even in the darkest of times the light of hope and joy still shine.

    • Mrs_Badcrumble

      I agree. Some sequences could have been quite shorter and the emotion, in consequence, quite higher. Instead of 160 min. of movie we would have 120, and that would be fine!
      Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie, but it does seem like an extended edition with all the deleted scenes still in.

    • Barrett Jasper

      I disagree. I want my money’s worth and to see a movie this long instead of a 90minute “rushed” story is much better if nothing more for the visual entertainment. I prefer sags to last at least 2.5,hours for the 12-16.00 ticket not to mention snacks.

  • sammylovegood

    thats exactly where i predicted it wold end

  • ChipperDW

    I saw the picture and the name Peter Jakson and I thought it was the cover of Percy Jackson Sea of Mosters

  • lioncircle antilope

    Complaining? COMPLAINING!? ITS WAS AWESOME! IT WAS SPECTACULAR! PETER JACKSON YOU ARE A GENIUS FOR LEAVING US WITH THAT CLIFF HANGER! The only disappointment I had was that we have to wait till next December to see the conclusion! :( They should do what they did with the deadly hallows part 2 and release it in the summer. But that unlikely :( Props to Peter, the cast and everyone that took part in the production of the desolation of Smaug! Thank you so much for such an adventure that lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes!

    • I AM FIRE

      I AM FIRE I AM DEATH dude as far as cliffhangers go it was amazing the only movie monster now that i hold in higher regard and not by much is godzilla fyi that trailer right before the hobbit was amazing dec 2014 i cant wait to see the fight over laketown and BEORN( i forget how its spelt) in bear form wrecking havoc will be incredible to

  • Joel Rolston

    I’ll admit that the cliffhanger left me feeling empty. I’ve never seen such a wonderful film that has left me feeling the way The Desolation of Smaug has. That may be why it scared me. It’s meant to catch you off guard and get you back in the theater a year from now. This is exactly what a well-written franchise film should do: building the tension up to an amazing climax that will be resolved in the final film. Bravo!

    • wanderingwarrior

      Would you say that you feel… desolated?

      • Joel Rolston

        Haha Good one!

  • Alex Alexander

    It is amazing how people complain for stupid details…
    People find these movies too long… what a joke.

  • David F. Clausen

    Very disappointed with the cliffhanger. I will not spend the money next year and just wait for the bootleg copies to hit the internet. Start thinking about that. SORRY JACKSON EPIC FAIL NOT WORTH THE $ 9.50 i HAD TO PAY.Glad I kept the 3-D glasses

    • Dani

      cheap ass

      • David F. Clausen

        Piss off Dani. Everyone there own opinion.

    • alex nj

      Where did you see a 3D movie for $9.50?? I paid $10.50 for the 2D version at 2 o’clock in the afternoon…

      • David F. Clausen

        Grants Pass Oregon 8:00 PM SHOWING

  • Zorbo85

    Seriously by turning the 2 part Hobbit in to a trilogy, adding Legolas and a love triangle just for the female fans is the biggest joke ever in cinema history!!
    2x 3 hour films would have been awesome and never would have dragged and drawn out!
    The ONLY reason Jackson made it a trilogy is to make money for him and the studio and by doing so are ripping off fans big time!
    What he has done is like making the LOTR a 4 part film just for the sake of it and at the time would have been unthinkable.
    Yes the last part has the battle of 5 armies and the ending to Smaug but again not enough for a 3 hour film and just like the others will be dragged out with crap just to fill time.
    The great parts of the book have been drawn out way to much just to make up time and it shows and why this trilogy will just be like the StarWars prequels.
    The Hobbit could have been amazing, but instead we will just get 3 ok films filled with way to much over the top CGI and utter drivel from the back of the books!!
    No wonder Del Torro quit when he found out they would be making it 3 films!!

    • vincanss

      Actually Jackson is quoted as stating he went to the studio to ask for 3 films and not the other way around. If it were the studio then yes, more money is the only driving factor. As it’s Jackson, it’s creative. He looked at it as an opportunity to use the extra material in the appendices and make the films fit more to the LOTR in scale, and he was right to do so. The fact that in the long run having three films ‘will’ make more money for the studio overall is obviously not something lost on all involved. But frankly, what is your problem with that? Movies exist to make money. The more money the films make the better, and more films can be made as a result. And now we have even more time in middle Earth, an epic Five armies finale as well as the Smaug battle to look forward to and a whole saga of movies of great spectacle and all you can do is complain.

    • Barrett Jasper

      Oh BS. These movies have so many effects and time in them it was to support that. I think you are the only person I’ve ever heard say that about any of these movies of us. They are well worth every cent weather you rent it buy it or go to the movie. Think of all the crap you watch on TV that you pay for 3 or cable company.

  • Baggins

    Really? It’s the cliffhanger ending that bothers you? They’re going to re-write the Bible next, full of additions, changes and omissions, and I’m guessing, that won’t bother anyone more than where they split the movies. Tolkien must be rolling over in his grave. That’s not his Hobbit story at all. Suggestion: Read the book. There is no disappointment at all.

    • Smaug watches

      The Bible being rewritten, oh that’s never happened before. (Cough, Cough, Council of Nicea.)

      • Jedman

        I’ve read that that the council picking what would be canon in the Bible is a myth, and was already well established before that. All they did was refute heresy books that others wanted to add.

    • Rose

      Actually, I was pretty disappointed when I read the book and there wasn’t a single female character in it.

      • Ultron

        It was published in 1937. A much different time. Yes, I wish there were more females in lotr but you have to understand that men and women only interacted socially back then and women did not go to war. Plus he got most of his ideas while he was in the trenches, a place you don’t see any women. Tolkien only has about 3 females in the lotr trilogy but each one is crucial and powerful in their own way.

    • vincanss

      Oddly the movies are very faithful to the books in as much as the basic story. Every key scene, every key beat is included in the movies as in the book (where as LOTR movies removed some parts, e.g. Tom Bombadil). The movies just add to it, expand on it and pull from appendices of LOTR.

      Why does it have to be such a bad thing to make epic movies that can sit with LOTR? This is a series of movies we’re talking about here, and not a straight ahead Hobbit-as-a-kids-book adaption. Do the vast majority of people want to see Hobbit as a 2-2.5 hour single movie when they can have so much more, and something that sits more comfortably as part of the LOTR series?? Yes. And they shouldn’t review the movies bringing that up as a negative either. After the LOTR films there was never any way whatsoever Hobbit was going to be any less than 2 films, and doesn’t surprise me that Jackson wanted to tell more story and make it 3 films..

  • liam quane

    It was just buildup buildup buildup then it ends, it was a film that was both brimming with content and empty at the same time.

  • James Parr

    For me, splitting the films into three is good. I’m not talking about length or money grabbing. I just mean that the narrative breaks nicely for the acts this way. Maybe we should have had three 90 minute films, but I really love the way this one ends. Great ending.

  • Mr Misterson

    Im sorry Mr. Jackson, but “Empire Strikes Back” had a much better ending. Yes it might have been a bit of a cliffhanger, there were some things that were left undone but at least it didn’t just cut to black right after Darth Vader told Luke he was his father

  • christopher rubel

    hunger games;catching fire is garbage and not a film just likes predecessor. harry potty is just as queer as hunger games. those two film series are only about whiny emo teenage losers. The Middle earth films are without doubt the bets. they are action packed stories about courage and sacrifice, good vs evil.The Hobbit Deoslation of Smaug will always be superior to that pathetic teenage drama film. The hobbit is a deeper story and is all around entertaining, with visual and storytelling grandeur beyond imagining.

  • Daniel

    I kind of think we got spoiled with the Lotr. When those movies came out, we were blown away and put into a world we had never seen before, and we loved it. Now, nearly 10 years went by before we returned to Middle-Earth, and by the time it came, we were so used to it that nothing surprised us anymore. My jaw dropped when I first saw the Balrog, and if he were to show up again in these hobbit movies, it just wouldn’t be the same. Don’t get me wrong Smaug dominates and is the scene stealer, but as cool as he is, he doesn’t pack as much punch because we are so accustomed to seeing epic people, places and things that, our sense of wonder is just not as it once was. On top of it all, people need to realize that The Hobbit is a different story all together with different characters and need to stop comparing it to Lotr. When the first hobbit movie came out, I suspect that people were expecting Lotr 4, instead of something a bit more tame. I’ll even admit that these Hobbit movies are not as good, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fun to watch. After this 3 Hobbit movie, that’s it and we should be grateful we getting what’s coming to us.

  • Stanley Jermanowski

    There is not enough left of “The Hobbit” to make a good movie. It will have to be drawn out tremendously. I read The Hobbit at least ten times and am planning to read it again.

    This could have been done very nicely in two movies. The special effects are great but a third movie?????

  • Adam Oblak

    What is so hard to understand that PJ is using content from The Hobbit (novel) and The Appendices (found at the back of TROTK)? For the love of God: watch a couple of his interviews regarding his newest trilogy’s content or, at the very least, skim through a couple of his blogs where he directly addresses this question, before you start spouting your mind numbing ignorance all around the internet about a ‘lack of content’ this and it ‘should’ve only been two parts’ that because The Hobbit (novel) is too short and he just wanted to make some fast cash. Again, HE IS DRAWING ON CONTENT FROM THE HOBBIT AND THE APPENDICES!!! By the way, TROTK Appendices add a lot of non-narrative, fictional history to the story that absolutely can be expanded in cinematic form, not to mention should be, considering the nature of film being a medium in which we watch!!! It’s unfortunate half of you reading this probably have absolutely no clue about the novel, the appendices, or good filmmaking to realize this point! And Tauriel does kick a lot of ass! And I was exceedingly interested on a fresh take on what Gandalf gets off to when he separates from Thorin & Co (as many true fans do)! And alas, Chris Tolkien made up a lot of stuff too that JRR would’ve never thought of and it’s considered just as legitimate as if his dad wrote it himself. Where does he have his right to enter that mountain? I am fire, bitch! Now that’s my ending! Good job PJ! My favourite series of ALL time and I haven’t even finished watching it yet!

    • Dan Zy

      AMEN, so i wasn’t the only one thinking that. Seriously ppl should investigate more before doing criticism!

    • fantasywind

      Except he didn’t (Christopher Tolkien I mean, he used notes of his father :) and the additional stuff from appendices was cut short and even elements from proper Hobbit were cut to give room for PJ inventions which make no sense (and Dol Guldur plot is barely moving they should have made better work with that).

  • Jev Adiah


  • Barrett Jasper

    Gold would NEVER harden as fast as they were proclaiming it could have had it stopped Smaug, so to even think that could have worked was kinda silly but that’s my only gripe about the ending.

  • Barrett Jasper

    quit bitching about how you regret paying that much to go see the movies. Think of all the reality crap on TV that you watch that you pay your cable company to provide. This trilogy is worth your 12-20.00 or whatever your theater charges so quit whining people. Hell you pay 5-7.00 for a damn Starbucks run and even more than once a day so chill.

  • Ronnieluv1960

    I didn’t feel satisfied with the way the film ended. I paid to see the movie not to be left hanging! I’m left unsatisfied not eager! Disappointment is a good word! If I understood from the start this cliffhanger was on the menu I would have waited. They chose the wrong instance to end it! The action for me was too gripping to end with Bilbo who asks himself what they’ve gotten themselves into! Let’s see the damage then fade to black!

  • amir

    why u love adventure movies??? coz the aura it should create must make u feel “hey dats what i dream”, cudos PJ for giving reality to my dreams, jungles with no sunlight, beautiiful sunny pastures, dreamy scenery, frozen and chilled water lakes/ rivers/snow peaks and all in 3D, i hardly had time from the scenic beauty of Laketown to realize where the movie was heading…wondered y movie ended so quickly??? the atmosphere u been able to create is simply exhilarating….keep it up:)

  • Diddledumpling

    A 3rd movie = more $$$$. And the question “What have we done?” was most apt. Consider the original Hobbit and what is on offer is Hollywood screwing with literature.

  • MCMEfan

    For everybody criticising the length of the film, dont. The Hobbit is much more dense of a book than The Lord of the Rings, meaning it has more material in less words. The character development in The Hobbit is astounding, and i think that the movie does justice to this fact. With the decision to make it three movies, i would agree. If not, there would potentially be missing portions of the story, making it not in sync with the book. Also, Peter Jackson drew information from the appendices as well, and also made his own characters and events up as there was still a little breathing room in the film before that. The action scenes are really good and the build up to these is great.

    The third movie will have three amazing events in it that im sure Peter Jackson will do justice to. The first is obviously the slaying of Smaug. This is a great starting point from the end of the last film, and the decision to add the cliffhanger will make the movies flow that much more. The second major event is the Battle of Dol Guldur. The buildup to this battle has been eerie and suspenseful, and the battle itself will be awesome. Sauron a.k.a the Necromancer has the main portion of his army of orcs away, and the nine Nazgûl are not present at this time, so it will be an all out war between 10000 orcs, wargs and giant spiders against 1000 Lothlorien elves commanded by Celeborn and Galadriel, and three of the 5 istari are also present, although Gandalf is locked up. The result of the battle is the annihilation of the Necromancers army, forcing him to flee, and the destruction of Dol Guldur.

    • MCMEfan

      The third major event is the Battle of Five Armies, obviously, and i cant wait to see how this plays out.

      My last thing is that i love the redesign of Bolg, even though you can still catch a glimpse of the old design as Dwalin kills him in the Battle of Azanulbizar at the start of the first film. But how does he die and still be in the last two films, you may ask? Well my theory is it concerns a certaint Necromancer with the power to raise the dead…

  • michael31

    I don’t see why people are complaining, it was awesome. I loved how the dwarves and Bilbo fought Smaug really as it made it seem more epic though a lost cause. better than the book’s version how bilbo sneaks in takes the stone and leaves while the dwarves hide, then smaug just leaves even though he knows they are still there able to reclaim Erebor once he leaves. Before someone says otherwise, yes I have read all the books I am a Tolkien fan though I still believe the hobbit trilogy has really done the book justice, ok there is a few extras in it but they still add to story making it good

    • fantasywind

      For someone who read the book you seriously simplify and shorten out the proper plot :):):), the entire sequence in mountain with Smaug chasing them (my ggodness how many chase scenes there is in this movie it’s like a Benny Hill) was the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen my suspension of belief was blown over, even in fantasy there MUST be things implausible (like this cartoonish sequence I’m talking about), one ofthe strong points of Tolkien fantasy is that he puts much effort on REALISM despite things like magic, fantastical creatures and such. Tauriel is also pointless, this character adds nothing valuable to the story and exists only to satiate insane modern political correctness.

  • Arggghhhh

    This was offensive. Just make the film. It’s a short book.

  • Evil Angel

    It cracks me up reading all of the bad things about the ending, but I guarantee each of these bad mouthers will be in line getting their tickets for the finale.

  • The Flobbit

    I absolutely loved the ending. The entire movie was awesome.

  • Brad Johnson

    I wasn’t gasping over the cliffhanger. I was gasping about how stupid the scene under the mountain was and how much they f***** up Smaug’s wings.

  • tom

    I could sit and watch movies pike this back to back all day long… Some say this movie was to long. I say it was to short! Haha… Don’t get me wrong it’s a great movie! It left me wanted ng more more more, the 2 hr 41 min movie felt short. I kept looking at the time remaining and was upset that there was only an hour left…wait ing a whole year for the next movie will be much like being burned to death!!! Hurry up!!!

  • not a cliffhanger

    The only problem with the cliffhanger is that it isn’t technically a cliffhanger. We’re not left going “what’s going to happen?”. I haven’t read the book. But tDoS told us EXACTLY what’s going to happen in the first 5-20 mins. Smaug attacks Laketown. Bard grabs Black Arrow, shoots him under the scale, Bye Smaug, Bard redeemed, commence Battle of Five Armies (whatever that is) which is Peter Jackson’s new title for the film as of two weeks ago.

  • SHerbxx

    I think most of the disappointment came from the feeling of the whole thing being cut short for people who were enjoying the whole movie despite its duration. Movies cut into parts are normal over by the end of part 2 thus the confusion that quickly turns to simmering disappointment at the thought of waiting for a conclusion they already thought was at hand.

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