‘Hobbit’ keeps grip on box office

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“The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” is still smashing box offices, and deservingly so. The second installment of the popular fantasy story has already raked in more than $252 million since its release in December.
This second chapter of the story was better than the first, “An Unexpected Journey,” which made more $300 million and marked the return of director Peter Jackson to Middle Earth. In “Smaug,” viewers get to know the characters and their quest better. Also, my favorite series character, Legolas (Orlando Bloom), makes his first appearance here, inadvertantly coming to the aid of Bilbo and the dwarves when they face new dangers.
“The Hobbit” series is a prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Before they were movies, they were popular books written by J.R.R. Tolkien (“The Hobbit” and three “Rings” novels).
Jackson brought the first film in the “Rings” trilogy to the screen in 2001. The storyline in those movies is much different. In “Lord of the Rings,” Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and several other characters hide the ring of power from dark forces; they go through many trials to destroy it and its beguiling ways in Mordor’s Mountain of Doom. “The Hobbit” series takes place prior to these events, cataloging the adventures of Frodo’s uncle Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). At the request of the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Bilbo is drafted to help rightful-king-under-the-mountain Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his dwarf company make their way to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim their homeland. The mountain is full of untold riches, but it’s also being occupied by the evil dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who’s full power is being unleashed as the film ends in a cliffhanger.
The third movie in the trilogy, “There and Back Again,” comes out in December this year. Any “Hobbit” fan will be more than ready.