The rumors have been confirmed. The two-movie plan for The Hobbit has been changed, uh, mid-stream.
Make room in your movie-going schedule and expectations for a Hobbit trilogy.
Earlier today, director Peter Jackson announced on his Facebook page that a third film will be added to what was supposed to be a two-part film “duo”: The Hobbit: There and Back Again (to be released December 2012) and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 2013).
“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,” Jackson posted on Facebook, “I’d like to announce that two films will become three.”
How exactly the story will be stretched to three films remains to be seen. Certainly PJ had already hinted at how much extra material from the appendices and elsewhere in the Tolkien legendarium have already been be re-purposed to flesh out the two films already planned. Is there enough for a third film?
Variety reported today that “Principal shooting wrapped on the first two Hobbit films earlier this month, and though Jackson has plenty of b-roll to work with, a third pic will require a re-start of production.”
His statement explains some of what he’s thinking (or, at least, the official version of what’s in his head). The full statement from Sir PJ:
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.”
As for Jackson’s motivations, one can only guess. Is it a crass money-grubbing move to make us cough up another $15 at the box office? Or a genuine decision based on what’s best for the story? The commentary — some grousing, some mind-blown — has begun. Certainly many wonder and worry if we even need a third film, or if there’s enough there there in the story to stretch it to three.
More on this as we know more. Such as — what the heck will the third film be called?