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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Prepare: The dragon descends next Thursday

"Hobbit" fans rejoice: The second entry in Peter Jackson's trilogy-adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 novel, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," opens next Thursday night. No matter what your feeling is about Jackson's attempt to shoe-horn Tolkien's novel into the same kind of movie extravaganza he created with "The Lord of the Rings," "The Hobbit" is a holiday-movie must-see. And its Thursday opening — at 8:30 p.m. a day earlier than regular feature releases — should both boost its box-office numbers and feed the fervor that all Tolkien/Jackson followers feel. 

That's next week, though. This Friday, expect to see most mainstream theaters open Tony Scott's final film "Out of the Furnace." AMC River Park Square will add a screening of "Great Expectations," the newest in a long line of adaptations of Charles Dickens' 1861 novel (this one is directed by Mike Newell and stars Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Flemyng, Ralph Fiennes, Holliday Grainger and Jeremy Irvine).

Meanwhile, over at the Magic Lantern, Spokane's alternative movie theater will open the Italian film "La Grande Belleza" ("The Great Beauty"), while continuing "All Is Lost," "Enough Said," "Wadjda," "Kill Your Darlings" and "Inequality for All" (in its final week).

So take a break from all that shopping and take in a movie or three. Your local theaters will certainly appreciate it.