Peter Jackson in The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Production Diary 14

As eye-popping as the glittering gold piles, sinister dragon eyes, and deep, dark forests of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug are, they wouldn’t be quite as impressive without an appropriate soundtrack. That’s where Howard Shore comes in.

The Canadian composer has scored every installment of Peter Jackson‘s J.R.R. Tolkien franchise to date. For his trouble, Shore has won three Oscars — Best Original Score for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, plus Best Original Song for Return of the King‘s “Into the West.” Now he and his music are the focus of the final Hobbit production diary of 2013, which you can watch after the jump.

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Typically it can be considered a slightly spoilerish endeavor to listen to a film’s score before the movie opens. But most of us are so familiar with what Howard Shore has done for Peter Jackson and Middle-Earth that a new batch of music is more like an extension of what has gone before than an entirely new set of cues. That said, the first Hobbit film was fairly distinct from the Lord of the Rings films, and some of the music for the second movie has it’s own character, too, even as familiar themes and concepts keep it grounded in Middle-Earth.

So while it is a couple weeks yet before the December 13 opening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, you can spend the Thanksgiving holiday listening to 45 minutes from the score, as an embed has landed online. Read More »

National Treasure Book of Secrets

It’s an extra-chatty edition of Sequel Bits, as everyone has a little something to say about everything. After the jump:

  • A $500,000 camera has been stolen from Dumb and Dumber To
  • The next Aliens game might be about Ripley’s daughter
  • Peter Jackson chats about the score for The Hobbit
  • Director thinks National Treasure could shoot in two years
  • Dan Aykroyd is going on about Ghostbusters 3 again
  • Keanu Reeves chats about Point Break and Speed

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Pandas and hobbits and singletons, oh my! After the jump:

  • Marc Webb hints at costume changes for The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Guillermo del Toro offers Puss in Boots 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 updates
  • Author Helen Fielding has a third Bridget Jones novel due out next fall,
  • Listen to Howard Shore‘s full score for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2 almost received an R rating

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Fans of Middle Earth who’ve been following The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey closely know that advance tickets go on sale at noon EST Wednesday. It said so in both previously released commercials. But with that news comes not only our first list of theaters showing Peter Jackson‘s film in 48 frames per second, but the news that select theaters will show a marathon of the full Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions the week leading up to The Hobbit.

After the jump, get links to all of this, listen to a rousing sample from Howard Shore‘s score and read the full track listing. Read More »

One of the pleasures of any new David Cronenberg film is the new work from Howard Shore that traditionally accompanies it. Cronenberg and Shore have worked together on almost every one of the director’s features since The Brood in 1979. (Michael Kamen did the score for The Dead Zone in 1983.) And while not every Cronenberg/Shore collaboration has been gold, they have produced some excellent work together. The scores for The Fly and Videodrome are memorable and effective; Shore used Ornette Colman to great effect for Naked Lunch. A few years later he produced one of my favorite scores, period: the brittle, uneasy guitar-based music for Crash.

For Cosmopolis, the fourteenth feature collaboration between Cronenberg and Shore, the composer enlisted Canadian band Metric to perform the music for the film, and to co-write three tracks. (Metric also contributed to the Scott Pilgrim vs the World soundtrack.) Samples of the entire score are now available, and we’ve got info on the score below. Read More »

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Of the nine movies currently up for Best Picture, Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo is my personal favorite. There’s so much I love about the film, from its eye-popping visuals and impeccable use of 3D to its inspiring tale and lovable performances. I’m not the only one that feels that way, of course — Hugo‘s been a popular pick on many critics’ lists and awards ballots. And now, as Academy voters mull over their final decisions, Paramount is eager to remind everyone of Hugo‘s many wonderful qualities.

The studio has released a six-minute featurette titled “The Magic of Hugo,” which goes behind the scenes to look at the hows and whys of making the picture. Scorsese, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, production designer Dante Ferretti, producer Graham King, visual effects supervisor Robert Legato, composer Howard Shore, and stars Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen all appear to discuss their work on the project, and to talk about what made the film so special. Watch it after the jump.

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David Cronenberg has been a forward-thinking guy at many points in his career, but the overall tone of his films tends more towards the classic than the contemporary. He has relied upon Howard Shore to score his films for over thirty years. While some of those scores have been as unusual as the films they complemented, none have exactly been rock. (Even Crash, an absolutely brilliant score based around reverb and guitar, is far less rock than, say, Neil Young’s Dead Man, a similar score.)

So it’s a surprise to hear that Canadian rock band Metric, of whom you may know thanks to their song ‘Black Sheep,’ used in Scott Pilgrim, will collaborate with Howard Shore on the score for Cronenberg’s upcoming Cosmopolis. Read More »

It’s beginning to look a lot like Middle Earth, everywhere you go. Off in New Zealand, Peter Jackson and crew are back at it filming two films based on The Hobbit. On June 28, the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions are finally coming to Blu-ray and, in anticipation of that, each of those films are coming back to a theater near you for one night only. But that’s not all. Beginning this Fall, each one of the films – in celebration of their ten year anniversary – will be touring with a full, live orchestral accompaniment of Howard Shore‘s award-winning scores.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Live In Concert premiered in New York in 2009 and, this October, will come to the West Coast for several stops. The event is a feature length, digital presentation of the film on a 60 foot screen while the Munich Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Chorale and the Phoenix Boys Choir perform the score live. Next year, and the year after that, The Two Towers and The Return of the King will get similar treatments. After the jump, find out if this event is coming to an arena near you. Read More »