Fans who attended a midnight screening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at New York City's AMC Lincoln Square got a very special surprise: A visit from Gandalf himself.

After a brief introduction from a theater employee who clearly studied how to pronounce "Smaug" correctly, McKellan stepped up to a standing ovation from the audience. "Congratulations on being the first audience in New York to see The Desolation of Smaug," said McKellan. "This is where I wanted to be right now as we turn to midnight on Friday the thirteenth. I've seen this movie, and you'll have a wonderful time. I think the dragon goes on a bit long, but my God, he looks magnificent."

McKellan went on to reveal that Peter Jackson considers The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to be the best of his five Tolkien adaptations, and says that critics seem to feel the same way. He's wrong; reviews for The Desolation of Smaug, while far better than the first Hobbit movie, are dwarfed by the notices earned by the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But The Hobbit is clearly destined for box-office success; it earned $8.8 million from midnight screenings alone last night. Even the ones that Ian McKellan didn't attend.