Both director James Mangold (The Wolverine) and Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) have become proficient in the use of social media, in order to keep fans invested and talking about their superhero movies. However, their efforts pale in comparison to what Peter Jackson did throughout production on The Hobbit trilogy, where he released 10-15 minute video updates every two to three months.

Those who purchased The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-ray or DVD Combo Pack (ahead of the extended edition arriving later this year) received a special access code to watch Jackson’s Live Event, where he took questions from viewers, previewed conceptual art and showed behind the scenes footage from the second installment, subtitled The Desolation of Smaug.

Six minutes of that event have been made available to everyone else online, with the “goodies” including questions from celebrities who have a strong connection to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien (personally and professionally) – in addition to artwork depicting the Middle-Earth location known as Mirkwood – and behind the scenes material from The Desolation of Smaug, providing a sneak peek at new characters like Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) and the Elf warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), as well as Orlando Bloom once again wielding arrows as Legolas.

It’s no secret that I’m among those who felt The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey lived up to the haughty expectations, but there are many others who feel that beginning chapter to Jackson’s new Middle-earth trilogy (and eventual sextet) is the weakest of his Tolkien adaptations so far. One thing the Screen Rant staff and most people in general seem to agree on, is that The Desolation of Smaug will be able to win over many of An Unexpected Journey‘s detractors.

That’s because this second installment diverges into two overlapping story threads, with Gandalf setting off to battle The Necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch) while Bilbo and the dwarfs prepare to face the eponymous dragon (also played by Cumberbatch). Between all that, the previously-unglimpsed regions of Middle-earth and badass elf warriors joining the fun, this should be a rousing middle-trilogy chapter (similar to The Two Towers, which some regard as the strongest entry in the Lord of the Rings trilogy).

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in theaters on December 13th, 2013. The Hobbit: There and Back Again completes the trilogy on December 17th, 2014.

Source: Peter Jackson