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In an interview with Entertainment Weekly's Sirius XM station, Jackson revealed what the final shot of the first film originally was.
"The split was going to occur where Bard appears on the river bank as a silhouetted figure with a bow," the director said. "So the whole barrel sequence was going to be the climax."
Jackson went on to explain that that ending didn't sit right with him, especially when there was so much of the book yet to be depicted. Plus, filmmakers had expanded the "Hobbit" mythology considerably by padding the narrative with information from other Tolkien writings about Middle Earth, and all that extra story still needed a place.
Based on the negative critical reaction to the first film, it seems that maybe sticking to two films would have been a better creative choice. At least the action picks up -- and we finally see the dragon! -- in the next chapter.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" is in theaters now.
[via Entertainment Weekly, h/t SlashFilm]