New Hobbit footage reveals Gandalf scene that isn't in the book

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Dec 17, 2012

We knew the big-screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit would have to be bigger than the book when Peter Jackson announced he'd be making not one, but two films chronicling Bilbo Baggins' Middle-earth adventures. Now we're finally starting to see where the expansions are.

Footage Jackson screened for a Cinemacon crowd this week reveals that Gandalf is on an adventure of his own.

Monday was Warner Bros.' big day to present its upcoming blockbusters at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of the National Association of Theater Owners. After Tim Burton screened an extended Dark Shadows trailer and Christopher Nolan screened a reel of footage from The Dark Knight Rises, it was Peter Jackson's turn.

Jackson reportedly screened about 10 minutes of footage from his new Middle-earth epic, and among all the sweeping shots of the new landscape and the scenes we've already glimpsed in trailers (Gandalf inviting Bilbo on an adventure, Bilbo encountering Gollum in the Misty Mountains), Jackson also debuted a new, hobbitless sequence starring Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen).

Sadly, the footage was for CinemaCon eyes only (so far), but according to ComingSoon's Edward Douglas, here's what they saw:

"There's also a significant scene where Gandalf is presenting 'the Immortal Blade' to a council made up of Christopher Lee's Saruman, Cate Blanchett's Galadriel, and Hugo Weaving's Elrond as they discuss the sword's origins and how Gandalf was able to get it from the crypt of the Witch King where he was buried in a tomb covered with spells preventing it from being opened."

"We then see Gandalf going through that same tomb, peering around a corner when a bird flies out and startles him, and standing behind him is a dwarf - one we couldn't identify or remember, thought it was a kindly older dwarf rather than a warrior like Thorin. The birds flying around land on his head as if his hair was a nest and he puts his cap over them. With his staff, Gandalf lights up the way ahead which is a steep stairwell leading straight down."

Readers of Tolkien's novel will note that it's told only from Bilbo's point of view, and thus it's on a much smaller scale than The Lord of the Rings, but there are references to something bigger going on. Gandalf is missing from the band of adventurers for large swaths of time, off on some business of his own, and there are references to a "Necromancer" that Tolkien's later writings reveal to be Sauron. The War of the One Ring was brewing long before Frodo and Sam came along, and it seems Jackson wants to show us that rather than simply refer to it.

So it seems we'll have a meeting with wizards alongside our return to the Shire when the first part of The Hobbit hits theaters in December.