With the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug just a month away, the film's promotional campaign has kicked into high gear. At a live-cast fan event on Monday, director Peter Jackson and the film's cast debuted a special surprise: A new, three-minute trailer that offers the most complete glimpse of the Hobbit sequel yet.
Previous trailers for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have centered on Bilbo Baggins, Legolas, and the dragon Smaug, but this latest glimpse of the film highlights Thorin Oakenshield, a dwarf on a quest to reclaim his seat as King under the Mountain. The trailer opens with an ominous prophecy that describes Thorin's right to the throne, which is currently occupied by Smaug. "If this is to end in fire, then we will all burn together," says Thorin to his band of warriors, as the dragon snarls about its own claim to the throne.
It's an undeniably gorgeous trailer, even if those who haven't read The Hobbit will probably be a little lost. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will be an intriguing litmus test for the long-term durability of the Lord of the Rings franchise. Last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a box-office smash, but critics were far more lukewarm about it than the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the film hasn't hung around in the pop cultural consciousness the way The Lord of the Rings did. If The Desolation of Smaug underperforms at the box-office when it premieres next month, 2014's trilogy-ending The Hobbit: There and Back Again might be our last trip to Middle-earth. If it does well — well, maybe we'll end up with a Silmarillion film after all.