Last week, we reported that Peter Jackson was in serious talks with Warner Bros. on how to expand his two-part adaptation of The Hobbit into a trilogy. The studio obviously would love to have another tent pole flick lined-up, but they also had to consider the costs of extending contracts and pouring more money into additional shooting. There was already some bewilderment on the part of fans when Jackson wanted to develop J.R.R. Tolkien‘s relatively short novel into two movies, but the writer-director is pulling from more than just the narrative. He’s using material from the appendices and Tolkien’s notes in an attempt to tonally “make it as similar to The Lord of the Rings,” so all the movies could be viewed as a cohesive whole.
Now it looks like Warner Bros has agreed to another trip to Middle-earth, and the third installment in The Hobbit trilogy will arrive summer 2014. Hit the jump for more. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is due out December 14th. The Hobbit: There and Back Again is due out December 13, 2013. [Update: Possible titles for the new installment have been uncovered. More after the jump.]
Peter Jackson released the following statement on his Facebook page:
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.”
I greet this news with a mix of excitement and apprehension. On the one hand, more Middle-earth should be a good thing, right? It’s a beautiful world filled with rich, interesting characters. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a modern classic, so why not provide a prequel trilogy? It’s not like a prequel trilogy equipped with more money and state-of-the-art technology has ever gone horribly awry. Oh, wait.
There’s also the issue of Jackson’s last two films. King Kong is fine, and Jackson’s heart is in the right place, but it’s too long and contains extraneous storylines that should have been left on the cutting room floor. And The Lovely Bones is an out-and-out disaster. Finally, let’s keep in mind that Jackson originally didn’t want to do The Hobbit. That’s why Guillermo Del Toro was brought on board. Del Toro left the project when it didn’t look like it would ever get a greenlight. Jackson became the only one who could move forward once financing finally came together. Of course, Jackson is free to change his mind, and maybe once he got caught up making The Hobbit, he didn’t want to let it go. I just hope that the addition of a new film (and keep in mind, we don’t know how long any of these movies will be) will complete the story rather than simply augment it.
While the third and final installment will most likely still be called “There and Back Again,” (a recent press release from WB merely refers to Part 2 as “the second film” instead of “There and Back Again”), it appears that variations of “Desolation of Smaug” and “Riddles in the Dark” could be under consideration for the second film’s subtitle. Desolation of Smaug refers to the path of destruction left behind by the titular dragon, while Riddles in the Dark is a reference to a sequence between Bilbo and Gollum that is most likely in the first film. Again, nothing’s been confirmed, but these titles are definite possibilities.