“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.”
These are the opening words of a statement posted by Peter Jackson on his Facebook page today, confirming speculation earlier this month that the planned duo of The Hobbit films would be expanding to a trilogy.
When recently speaking at San Diego’s Comic Con, Jackson fuelled speculation by suggesting that 125 pages worth of appendices at the back of a later edition of the third Lord of the Rings book, Return of the King, could lend itself to a cinematic treatment. This appears to be the motivating factor behind the addition of a third film, which is apparently due to release in Summer 2014, breaking with the December-timed releases of the first two films in the trilogy, An Unexpected Journey (December 14th, 2012) and There and Back Again (December 13th, 2013).
Since the rumour broke last week, reactions have ranged from excited to outraged to simply bemused. After all, Jackson will be adapting into a three-film series a book that is shorter than any of the individual Rings books, while filling the gaps with Tolkein’s retrospective notes. This same concern existed when it was first announced that Jackson would be splitting it into two films, so naturally a third film feels like a massive gamble at this juncture, and if being cynical about it, a massive cash grab for the studios.
Would it have been smarter for Jackson to save this additional material for his famously comprehensive home video releases? Can the story hold over three films?
Here’s the full Peter Jackson statement;
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.”