Peter Jackson renames ‘Hobbit’ finale: ‘Battle of the Five Armies’

April 24, 2014 | 10:21 a.m.
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Martin Freeman as Bilbo, from left, Jed Brophy as Nori and Richard Armitage as Thorin in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf, left, and Sylvester McCoy as Radagast in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (James Fisher / Warner Bros.)

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Richard Armitage as Thorin, left, and Dean O'Gorman as Fili in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Graham McTavish as Dwalin, left, Ken Stott as Balin, Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Richard Armitage as Thorin and William Kircher as Bifur in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Martin Freeman, left, and John Callen in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf, left, and Sylvester McCoy as Radagast in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Azog, portrayed by Manu Bennett through motion-capture technology, in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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William Kircher as Bifur, left, John Callen as Oin, Richard Armitage as Thorin and Ken Stott as Balin in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-town, left, and Ryan Gage as Alfrid in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Peggy Nesbitt as Sigrid, Mary Nesbitt as Tilda and John Bell as Bain in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Azog, portrayed by Manu Bennett through motion-capture technology, in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Lee Pace as Thranduil in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Orlando Bloom as Legolas in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Lee Pace as Thranduil in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Luke Evans as Bard in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” will be the title of the final film in Peter Jackson’s latest J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy.

The last installment, which previously had been titled “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” is set to open Dec. 17, and will follow on after the events depicted in last year’s second movie, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

Jackson announced the new title on Facebook on Thursday and offered an explanation for the change.

“When we did the premiere trip late last year, I had a quiet conversation with the studio about the idea of revisiting the title. We decided to keep an open mind until a cut of the film was ready to look at. We reached that point last week, and after viewing the movie, we all agreed there is now one title that feels completely appropriate,” Jackson wrote.

“And so: ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ it is.”

VIDEO: IAN MCKELLEN QUOTES TOLKIEN

Jackson’s latest adventures in Middle-Earth have been slightly more fraught than his landmark “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which launched in 2001 and enjoyed immediate, commanding creative and box-office success. When 2012′s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” opened in theaters, critics and fans struggled to embrace the film, even as it raked in $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

Detractors seemed saddened that the soaring sense of adventure and heart that had defined the “Rings” films had gone missing, replaced by flatulent trolls, moments of slapstick humor and sluggish pacing. Only the sequence featuring the creature Gollum was universally praised as matching Jackson’s earlier, Oscar-winning achievements.

By contrast, “Smaug,” with its grand scope and serious tone, was hailed as a return to form, brimming with action, including a show-stopping fight sequence filmed along New Zealand’s Pelorus River.

Peter Jackson, director of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," in Beverly Hills on Dec. 5, 2013. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Peter Jackson, director of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” in Beverly Hills on Dec. 5, 2013. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Jackson told Hero Complex in an interview last year that he felt freer with the second film — he had to neither introduce nor conclude the story. He introduced one wholly new character to the Tolkien universe, the warrior elf Tauriel, played with fiery gusto by actress Evangeline Lilly.

“We are consciously trying to deepen the characterizations and conflicts without straying too far from Tolkien,” Jackson said.

He also went on to say that he’s pleased that his films have helped bring Tolkien’s magic to new generations of readers.

“The great thing about the movies is that they have increased the book sales enormously,” Jackson said. “Huge numbers of people are reading Tolkien now, and I’m happy to claim some credit for that. Any of the liberties that we take in adapting, any of the changes we make, any of the things that might have upset Professor Tolkien … it’s not all take. We do give something back.”

In his Facebook announcement, Jackson did go on to say that the title “There and Back Again” could appear on future “Hobbit” offerings.

“As Professor Tolkien intended, ‘There and Back Again’ encompasses Bilbo’s entire adventure, so don’t be surprised if you see it used on a future box-set of all three movies,” Jackson wrote.

What do you think of the new title? Are you excited to see “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

– Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex

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