A few days before Comic Con came word that Peter Jackson was seriously looking into turning his two "The Hobbit" films into a trilogy. The studio quickly denied it, even now the official plan remains to continue with the two film release this Christmas and next.
Yet Jackson continued mentioning the possibility in San Diego and this week Warner Brothers, Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have all reportedly been exploring the logistics of what it would take to make another movie reports Heat Vision.
Talks are said to "have accelerated" to the point that the studio is fine with the idea so long as the financial and legal arrangements can be achieved. A source says "If we're going to do it, we have to make a decision. It's strongly driven by the filmmakers' desire to tell more of the story."
The move isn't a big surprise. By incorporating not just "The Hobbit" but Tolkien's various extensive appendices published post-Rings, the filmmakers have been able to expand the story in considerable ways that even fitting everything into two films is a stretch.
Additional shooting next year for the second film was always going to be the case, but should they go ahead with a third film then key cast and crew could reassemble for a longer 2-3 month stint next Summer in New Zealand which would allow Jackson to shoot the additional sequences he wants to add in.
In some ways it's a no brainer - for fairly minimal additional cost the studio gets an entire extra film which is already partly shot anyway, while audiences will get three movies of reasonable length instead of two potential bladder busting epics. There will be some re-writing and re-editing on Jackson's part of the first two films but it'd be a shock if he, Walsh and Boyens haven't already got a good idea of how to reshape the project already.
The only real obstacle is logistics. While Warners has the money to spend, will they want to? More importantly there's the contractual issues - all the actors and crew signed on for two films which means all new deals will have to be struck.