Following on from reports over the past few weeks, it has now been confirmed - Peter Jackson's dual "The Hobbit" films are set to become a trilogy. Jackson has released a statement on his Facebook page that essentially confirms that Warners has agreed to the arrangement which will see some shuffling of plans along with some extensive additional shooting in New Zealand next year. Here's his statement in full:
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.”
Of course this brings up the issue of the title. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a lock for the first film. "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" was to be the second film's title and now the best guess is it will likely become that of the third film. This leaves the title of 'middle film' up in the air… or maybe not.
Shortly after this statement came out, Fusible discovered that brand protection company MarkMonitor, which had previously registered domain names involving the two previous 'Hobbit' titles, picked up several more over the weekend. Each of these new domain names were variations on two titles - “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “The Hobbit: Riddles in the Dark”. Could one of these be the title for the middle film?