The Hobbit: Fighting the final battle

The Hobbit: Fighting the final battle

Orlando Bloom called it a bittersweet moment.

Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman said they felt proud.

Peter Jackson said he could finally relax.

It was a basket of mixed feelings at the press conference of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies in London on Tuesday, as the cast and director bade farewell to a passion project 16 years in the making.

The final chapter of The Hobbit trilogy, which opens here on Dec 18, sees the culmination of hobbit Bilbo's (Freeman) journey with the 13 dwarves.

Led by king Thorin (Armitage), they attempt to reclaim the ancient dwarvish kingdom under the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug.

But there's no happy ending yet as dwarves, men, elves and orcs all want the treasure that was once protected by Smaug - hence the film's title.

This instalment is also vital as it is the bridge to Jackson's Oscar-winning The Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) trilogy, which began in 2001 and ended in 2003.

The series of The Hobbit films, based on the 1937 children's novel by JRR Tolkien, was originally conceived to be only one movie, said Jackson, adding that he wanted to make The Hobbit before taking on LOTR.

"Somehow the order changed," added the 53-year-old New Zealander.

When asked if he would consider delving into Tolkien's other Middle-earth novels, he said it is legally impossible.

"The Tolkien Estate owns the rights to all the writings.

"The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings were the only two works sold as film rights by Professor Tolkien in the late 60s," he explained.

When it is all over, Jackson said, he'll be looking forward to chilling out on the beach.

But if actor Ian McKellen has his way, Jackson won't be able to have that long-awaited vacation.

Said the 75-year-old Brit: "The next moment, I hope, is that Peter is going to devise not more films but a situation you can all go to that is as much theatrical as cinematic - a living museum where you will actually have the experience of Middle-earth."

"Can I have a little break first?" Jackson told McKellen, laughing.

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