Blu-ray, 3D, DVD Release: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: March 19, 2013
Price: DVD $22.97, Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo $35.99, Five-Disc Blu-ray 3D $44.95
Studio: Warner Home Video

The HobbitDirector Peter Jackson (The Frighteners) expands J.R.R. Tolkien‘s much loved novel for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Martin Freeman (TV’s The Office) takes over the role of Bilbo Baggins, a sensible hobbit who gets pulled into an unexpected adventure with a group of dwarves (including Richard Armitage, Captain America: The First Avenger) and the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen, X-Men: The Last Stand) to reclaim the stolen mountain from a dragon called Smaug.

Jackson and the rest of his adaptation writing team from The Lord of the Rings, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, tackled Tolkien’s earlier book, the story of how Bilbo (played in LOTR by Ian Holm) became the adventurous hobbit we know and love. The screenplay also was co-written by acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Cronos), who was set to direct two movies based on the novel but stepped back from helming after the films were delayed.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey DVD boxThe Hobbit — which is only one book — will now be three films (good job on getting more money from fans, Warner!). The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug arrives in theaters at the end of 2013, and the series wraps up in 2014 with The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

With the expansion, the writing team are inventing some of the story themselves, weaving in LOTR-inspired content, including characters from those books and movies and bringing them all under the same franchise.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray boxThe changes brought mixed feelings from critics and fans. Although everyone agrees that Jackson’s film is beautiful to see, they also agree that it’s unnecessarily long. Critic Richard Roeper said, “There’s no denying the majesty in Peter Jackson’s visuals but he’s taken a relatively slim children’s book and stretched it beyond the limits.”

Still, PG-13-rated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey grossed a tidy $296 million in the U.S. and more than $650 million worldwide. Diehard LOTR fans will just enjoy being back in that world and will happily sit through the next two movies when they arrive.

Warner has designed different covers for the DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo and Blu-ray 3D Combo packs, which could either please or frustrate wallet-strapped fans.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray 3D boxThe Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D sets offer download and instant streaming of the film via UltraViolet, redeemable by March 19, 2015 (not including a file for iTunes). Both the high-definition and 3D versions also contain these special features:

  • Documentary New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth
  • Video Blogs
    • Start of Production
    • Location Scouting
    • Shooting Block One
    • Filming in 3D
    • Locations Part 1
    • Locations Part 2
    • Stone St. Studios Tour
    • Wrap of Principal Photography
    • Post-production Overview
    • Wellington World Premiere
  • Theatrical Trailers
    • Dwarves
    • Letter Opener
    • Bilbo Contract
    • Gandalf Wagers
    • Gollum Paths
  • Game Trailers
    • The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth
    • Guardians of Middle-Earth
    • Lego The Lord of the Rings
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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.