New ‘Hobbit’ TV spot offers a first look at Smaug the Dragon

Will Perkins
Canada Holiday Movies Guide

With just a few weeks left before the release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," it's amazing to think that we're only just now getting our first look at the movie's villain. A new TV spot for "An Unexpected Journey" offers a very brief glimpse of Smaug the dragon laying waste to the Middle-earth city of Dale with his fiery breath:

The clips and trailers for the first part of director Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy have shown off plenty of dwarves and elves, trolls, goblins, and hobbitses, but one thing viewers hadn't seen -- until now -- was the fire-breathing dragon Smaug. Voiced by actor Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock," "Star Trek Into Darkness"), the cunning dragon sets the events of the film in motion by occupying the dwarven city underneath the Lonely Mountain. Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and a group of dwarves embark on their quest to retake the Lonely Mountain at the beginning of "An Unexpected Journey."

See also: Evangeline Lilly debuts short 'do at 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' premiere

While Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy was hugely successful both critically and financially, the success of "The Hobbit" prequel films is still a big question mark. Early buzz has been good and "Rings" fans seem excited, but many are wondering if the fantasy film can beat back the dragon kiss of death. Dragons and Hollywood have had a storied history, with dragon-centric box office stinkers like "Dragonslayer," "Dragonheart," and "Reign of Fire" far outnumbering successes like the animated "How to Train your Dragon." Not even a dragon voiced by Sean Connery could save "Dragonheart" from box office failure.

See also: Five things you may not know about 'The Hobbit'

Can "The Hobbit" movies break this dragon curse? Probably. "The Hobbit" is much more about the travails of its titular hero than it is about any dragon. Plus, it's likely that Smaug will only briefly appear in "An Unexpected Journey," if the film follows the events of J. R. R. Tolkien's book. The jewel-encrusted lizard will likely take on a more significant role in the next two "Hobbit" movies, "The Desolation of Smaug" (the movie does bear the dragon's name, after all) and "There and Back Again." It might just take a hairy-footed hobbit to change the fortunes of cinema's winged, fire-breathing beasties.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" hits theatres on December 14.