"The Hobbit" series comes to a close on December 17 with "The Battle Of Five Armies," but for composer Howard Shore this has been a six-film, multi-decade long unexpected journey that began way back with "The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring." And not only that, it's encompassed concerts that have been performed around the globe... And it may not even be done yet.
In advance of the film's release, as well as the soundtrack -- which is available now from WaterTower Music -- MTV News hopped on the phone with Shore to discuss the past, present and future of the franchise.
MTV News: At this point, you're six films in on the series... So what’s it like to be finally rounding the finish line?
Howard Shore: Well it feels pretty good! It’s been many years since "Fellowship of the Ring," it was 14 years ago... It took almost four years to write "Lord of the Rings," then there was a gap of a few years, and "The Hobbit" is now three years. I’ve been in Middle Earth for quite a bit, but I really do love it. I mean, Peter [Jackson] makes amazing movies, so it really has been fun.
MTV: "Battle of the Five Armies" is in an interesting place because it's both a culmination of the "Hobbit" trilogy, and setting up what happens in "Lord of the Rings." How do you balance those two elements while crafting the score?
Shore: At the end of this "Hobbit" film it’s only 60 years going into "Fellowship of the Ring," and we kind of link into "Fellowship." So you're kind of riding in the middle... You're ending one story, but you're getting ready to begin an even larger, grander tale.
MTV: So when you were crafting the score, were you trying to transition the themes from what you were dealing with in "The Hobbit" to what you were setting up in "Fellowship of the Ring?"
Shore: A little bit of both. There’s a little touch of "Rings" motifs in this score, mostly towards the end of the film -- and in the beginning there’s hints of things that preceded it, mostly Smaug motifs.
MTV: Is there something in particular that separates the sound of "The Hobbit," versus "Lord of the Rings?"
Shore: Yes, indeed. "The Hobbit" was written before "Lord of The Rings," Tolkien wrote it back in the '30s as a children’s story -- so it has a much lighter feel to it. Taking that into consideration when we started on "An Unexpected Journey," I worked in a much purer way in the beginning. Then through "Smaug," things got darker and with "Battle of the Five Armies," the shadings got even darker.
So I tried to begin in a lighter place, and take us into dark place, which is then leading into "Lord of the Rings." I tried to keep the storytelling -- I think we all did -- intact, because we thought people would watch the six films together... Although it would take you quite a long time, I think over 20 hours.
MTV: At this point are you tying up your themes, or were you still creating new ones for "Battle Of Five Armies?"
Shore: There’s new characters: Bain and Bolg. Bolg we're met before, but [the role] was much more developed. You also had to resolve everything that had come before. I mean, Smaug and Lake-town is its own complete work, if you will; and how Smaug's thematic material worked with Lake-town, and the interweaving of all of those characters...
But in this film you’re not introduced to new cultures. The chessboard is set and now you're just moving the pieces around and creating the grand finale with the battle.
MTV: You’ve done a bunch of concerts for "Lord of the Rings." Do you think you'll do the same thing for "The Hobbit?"
Shore: I don’t know yet! The "Rings" concerts are still going... There’s concerts this month in Belgium and in Europe. There’s a rather large series of concerts at Lincoln Center in April. It takes quite a few years to create those scores, to actually play them in concert, to play them live. Each one of the "Rings" scores took about a year. So 8-12 months to unarchive those scores and rebuild them so they can be played live. So if it does happen, it will be a few years to get it organized.
MTV: There's been all this back and forth over the past few days, where Ian McKellan said, "I don’t think Peter Jackson Is done with Middle Earth yet," and then Peter Jackson said "Nope, I'm done with Middle Earth."
So what's your take on it? Where is Peter's head at, and would you want to come back if there was a seventh Middle Earth film of some sort?
Shore: Well I do love Middle Earth, I mean I love working in the world. I would say, never say never. I think Peter references having rights to other works. This may well be it. These six films... So I guess we'll see. But never say never, it would be lovely to make a return at some point to the world.
The soundtrack to "The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies" is now in stores. The movie hits theaters on December 17.