Just last week, rumors and reports were flying around indicating that Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. had basically already decided upon turning The Hobbit, originally planned as a two-part film series, into three and that only financial and contractual issues were preventing it from being official. Today, Jackson himself took to Facebook to confirm to both elated and pissed off fans that The Hobbit will indeed become a trilogy.
“It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’
We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance. The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.
So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of “The Hobbit” films, I’d like to announce that two films will become three.
It has been an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, ‘a tale that grew in the telling.'”
Only time will tell how the announcement will sit with fans of the franchise, as the early reports of a possible trilogy brought both jubilation and harsh criticism to the forefront. While some fans will revel at another trilogy based within the realm of Middle-Earth, there will undoubtedly be dissenters who believe turning a 300-page book into three films is a blatant cash-grab. However, in Jackson’s official statement above, the director confirms previous speculation that a third film would make use of the six appendixes Tolkien had written and published in the back of The Return of the King. The segments both expanded the story and helped to bridge the gap between the end of The Hobbit and the start of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The cast is expected to reconvene for additional shooting that will take place next summer in New Zealand for a period of around two months. The first installment in The Hobbit trilogy, titled, An Unexpected Journey, is slated to hit theaters this December, while the second, There and Back Again, is set to release a year later in 2013. It’s safe to assume the third part in the series will release approximately a year after in 2014.