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In the final Hobbit movie, The Battle of the Five Armies, why did the movie start with Smaug's death? Why did this not conclude during The Desolation of Smaug?

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    There's a certain amount of narrative logic: the events of Battle of the Five Armies are largely caused by Smaug's attack on Lake-town, so having that fresh in the audience's mind is helpful to telling the story. Plus Desolation was already over 2.5 hours long, and really didn't need to be longer – Jason Baker Feb 19 '15 at 2:14
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    Because no one would have bothered going to see the last movie had there not been at least some promise of Smaug. – phantom42 Feb 19 '15 at 2:34
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    one important trivia, the hobbit series was supposed to be a two part series.. they cut it in three and desolation of Smaug is just a filler.. So, to keep things interesting, they left a cliffhanger.. – RicoRicochet Feb 19 '15 at 10:27
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    when the entire setup of the trilogy is going to defeat the dragon, you can't do that in your second film :\ – NKCampbell Jun 12 '17 at 14:01
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    Ummm reading the book and later watching the movie, I always thought 'The Desolation of Smaug' referred to the desolation that Smaug created. Which could refer to the city of Dale that he laid waste to, and/or Lake-town that he completely destroyed later on... Of course, if you're talking about the cinematic motivation for putting his death at the start of BoFA and not the end of DoS, it could have largely for the cliffhanger. – ASH-Aisyah Jun 12 '17 at 22:14
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According to Peter Jackson (source):

We did talk about it a lot. There was certainly a lot of discussion about it. It was just an opportunity. It was just a chance – it’s very rare that you get to do films back to back whether it’s two or three films and to be able to just end on a cliffhanger.

And so it was a deliberate choice to end the second movie on a cliffhanger.

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Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens discussed this at some considerable length in the filmmaker's commentary for the Desolation of Smaug. In short, there was studio pressure to leave the film on a substantial cliffhanger and by resolving the dragon plotline, you'd lose the ability to involve the Laketown characters in the third film, without resorting to flashbacks to explain who they are and why they're fleeing the city:

Jackson : There was debate about the ending, whether we should have a cliffhanger or not, I mean at the end of the day, there wasn't [chuckling] a hell of a lot of choice about it, really I mean, y'know, there was never any talk about destroying Laketown in this film, I mean I think, y'know there was a sense maybe that maybe it's a sort of, this, that Laketown, the destruction of Laketown was going to be the end of the film but in a way it's not, it just didn't feel right to us because it's not, I don't know, it just didn't feel like it belonged in this film for some strange...well we, this was never a decision that we even seriously considered, it was like, well you actually can't end this, with this by....

Phillippa Boyens: ...Resolving everything...

Jackson : Because as it is, you see, with the Dragon attack at the start of the third movie it also gives us the chance to push through some of the other storylines so even though something may happen to the dragon (spoiler alert) the, there was still a lot of other narrative that's motoring on at the same time.

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    "so even though something may happen to the dragon (spoiler alert)" [text from Jackson quote above] SPOILER ALERT? The books has been out what 50-60 years now? Spoiler alert, indeed. – PFS32 Feb 19 '15 at 16:29
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    @PFS32 - He said it ironically. My guess is that anyone nerdy enough to be listening to the filmmarker's commentary doesn't need Smaug's death flagged with a spoiler alert :-) – Valorum Feb 19 '15 at 16:30
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    That quote from Jackson is really a mess of "y'know"s, "I mean"s and other fillers... – xDaizu Jun 13 '17 at 13:21
  • @xDaizu - That the problem with transcribing speech. Sometimes it's a bit sloppy. – Valorum Jun 13 '17 at 13:27
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    @xDaizu - It's an especial problem of Jackson's. He seems incapable of pursuing a thought to its conclusion. It's very annoying when he starts talking about something highly relevant to a question, then gets distracted by a butterfly and wanders off to talk about something entirely different. – Valorum Jun 13 '17 at 13:48

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