Peter Jackson officially announced this morning that his planned two-movie adaptation of The Hobbit will be expanded into a trilogy, quoting J.R.R. Tolkien in saying it's "a tale that grew in the telling." The final film is expected to be released in summer 2014.
The director ignited the rumors himself at Comic-Con International when he told fans he'd like to shoot more scenes. That was followed by news reports that Jackson and Warner Bros. were exploring the possibility, and the financing, of a third movie. This morning the filmmaker took to his Facebook page, the hub for virtually all Hobbit announcements, to confirm the 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."
Jackson completed principal photography on the first two films earlier this month, marking the occasion with a new video diary. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens on Dec. 14, 2012, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again on Dec. 13, 2013.