“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…”
Such was the brief line that launched a thousand elves, orcs, dwarves, several wizards, kings, villains, a nasty Gollum, a few Ents, Tom Bombadil, Middle Earth, dragons, a couple of new languages, and, oh yes, the race known as hobbits.
It was a good beginning — just the sort of opening line J. R. R. Tolkien would use to capture the attention of his 3 children (he would have a fourth later), for whom he created the tale of The Hobbit.
Because right away you naturally have to wonder: What’s a hobbit?
From such small beginnings can come big things.
Now the first movie in an epic trilogy of films about a particular hobbit and his adventures in Middle Earth — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — is about to hit the big screen in full digital 3D glory and 48fps clarity, with all the sound and fury 21st century movie-making technology can bring to bear.
You, of course, have been waiting to see this movie for what seems like forever.
The wait is almost over, at least for the first film. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will premiere on December 14, 2012 in the USA (December 20 in Ukraine and December 26 in Iceland, by the way).
It will be followed by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in December, 2013 and The Hobbit: There and Back Again in July, 2014.
Which means you’ve got a bit more waiting to do. How will you pass the time?
Here are 5 things you can do as we count down to the movie’s premiere:
1. Buy tickets in advance
You don’t want to get shut out of the showtime you prefer. Plus, why wait in line at the theater on opening night, or whenever you go see the film? Buy tickets online via Fandango, pick up your tickets at the theater or print them at a convenient kiosk (depending on the theater) and waltz right past the box office where all the people without computers must wait for hours.
If you’ve got a mobile device, you can go to the mobile-optimized Fandango mobile online box office.
And remember, we’re coming up on Christmas, so if you know a die-hard fan of The Hobbit, you might consider giving them a gift of a Limited Edition Hobbit Collector Gift Card — a gift card they can use to attend any movie at any theater available for ticketing on Fandango.com. You can customize the card with your own photo or choose from a number of character portraits. Deliver it physically or via email. These cards will be available for a limited time.
2. Read the book again
The Hobbit has never been out of print since the first edition was published in 1937. There’s a reason for that: it’s a good book. When was the last time you read it? You can whet your appetite (and help pass the time) by immersing yourself once again in Bilbo’s adventurous, magical, foreboding, fabulous journey through Tolkien’s luminous world.
You can find the 75th anniversary edition paperback at Barnes & Noble here.
If you want to delve into many other editions of The Hobbit (and also find it for a very low price or in collectible editions), you can find many of them available at AbeBooks.
In addition, since Peter Jackson has expanded The Hobbit movies with additional material from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, you might want to get those books and check the appendices to learn the deep background (lots of lore about Sauron, elves, wizards, dwarves, and so on).
3. Prepare your Middle Earth character costume stuff
Maybe you’re going to a Hobbit pre-screening party — or post-viewing after-party. Or maybe you want to see the movie dressed as your favorite Hobbit or LOTR character. In any event, you’ve got some preparations to make.
That’s where places like BuyCostumes, Costumes4Less, and Costume Super Center come in. You can find costumes based on several characters from both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by clicking here for BuyCostumes and clicking here for Costumes4Less.
That’s not all, however. If you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of guy, they carry many accessories such as capes and cloaks and other apparel that you can use to create your character costume, along with beards, face paint (for orcs), and makeup.
Revel in the story once again. Then dress up and go see the movie.
4. Start increasing your inventory of The Hobbit collectibles and movie memorabilia from Entertainment Earth
You’ll want to do this before everyone else does. After all, they don’t call them “collectibles” for nothing.
So click here to see everything Hobbit-related at Entertainment Earth, which has the most extensive collection of movie-related figures, toys, memorabilia, prop replicas, art, and collectables of any company that I know of online. If you’re a film fan, it’s the kind of site you can shop for hours.
For example, how about the figures of the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield and the Goblin King ready to do battle?
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.
5. Get a map of Middle Earth and put it up on your wall
Trace the journey that Bilbo and the dwarves take from The Shire to Rivendell, over the Misty Mountains, through Mirkwood, and toward the Lonely Mountain.
You can find a good-quality map of Middle Earth in poster form at Zazzle. The default size is 24″ x 24″ but you can get it in larger or smaller sizes, and you can have it printed on regular poster paper or better quality papers all the way up to premium canvas. It depends on how long you want it to last.
Personally, I’d go for the high-quality version, since I’ll be a fan of Tolkien’s works for the rest of my life.
Wow, it’s a long time to wait until July, 2014…
Of course, you can do any of the above things after you see the movie, too. As Bilbo said, the road goes ever on…
So, what did you do while waiting and how did you enjoy the movie? Leave a comment below.