By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 18, 2011 at 1:36AM
2011's major innovation in movie marketing has been the drip-feed: the regular reveal of first looks or casting announcement on high-profile projects. Of course, that's always been a technique, but it seems to have reached extremes in recent months, with "X-Men: First Class" releasing so many stills that you could recreate the movie as a flip-book, and press releases breathlessly announcing EVERY SINGLE PERSON who would appear in "The Hunger Games."
Warner Bros and MGM have been getting in on the act in the last week or so by providing the first looks at the dwarves who'll be joining Bilbo Baggins on his treasure-hunt in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" prequels "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and "The Hobbit: There And Back Again." First we had Dori, Nori & Ori, then Óin and Glóin, then Kili & Fili, then Bofur, Bombur & Bifur, and then Balin & Dwalin, providing fans of British and New Zealander character actors in heavy prosthetics in front of a grey background with inexpressible joy. And over the weekend, the final piece of the puzzle arrived, as The One Ring revealed the first look at Thorin Oakenshield.
Played by U.K. heartthrob Richard Armitage ("Spooks," "Captain America"), Oakenshield is the dwarves' leader, a fearless warrior with an obsession with killing the fearsome dragon Smaug. Fans with crushes on the actor may be a little disappointed by the extent of his make-up, but he certainly looks the part, and is holding something called Orcrist, a sword that we're sure will cleave a few heads before the two films are done. Anyway, the dwarf well seems to have run dry, but stay tuned, because with any luck we'll get pictures of Ian McKellen from 25 different angles soon. Or something. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will hit theaters on December 14th, 2012, with "The Hobbit: There And Back Again" following on December 13 2013.