Back when Peter Jackson assumed the directorial role on Warner Bros.’ adaptation of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, it was envisioned as two films, one titled An Unexpected Journey and the other titled There and Back Again. The first film’s title was a creation of the writing team while ‘There and Back Again’ was a reference to the book Bilbo writes to sum up his adventures.

Now that Jackson has revealed he’s going to make three films out of The Hobbit, that original plan has changed. Most figured that the original two films would keep their titles, and Jackson’s third film – which encompasses ancillary pieces of writing from Tolkien and would bridge the gap between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – would adopt a new subtitle, but that is not the case.

In fact, as The Hollywood Reporter has revealed, the third film in the newly formed trilogy will be titled There and Back Again, and the second film will now be subtitled The Desolation of Smaug. Back when Warner Bros. registered domains for Desolation (and for Riddles in the Dark) we hypothesized that the third and second film might swap titles, and now that theory has been confirmed.

In addition to new titles for the second two films, THR reports that There and Back Again (now the third film if you’re keeping track) will release on July 18, 2014, less than a year after the release of Desolation of Smaug (Hobbit film number two).

It’s a lot of new information for Hobbit fans to take on, but it also makes sense in terms of the films’ presumed layout. An Unexpected Journey is most blatantly a reference to Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) taking on the major quest in The Hobbit, while Desolation of Smaug establishes the setting in part two. Some spoiler-phobic moviegoers are reading the film’s subtitle as telling of its climactic conclusion, but really it’s only a reference to where Smaug the dragon resides.

As was mentioned before, There and Back Again is a title that references Bilbo’s book, and makes for the perfect way to round out the trilogy. This third film will still, likely, encapsulate mostly non-Hobbit storylines, and will be a perfect place for Lord of the Rings‘ cast members like Elijah Wood to reappear.

Image Credit: David “moonchild” Demaret

In essence, fans now know how Peter Jackson would like to lay things out in The Hobbit trilogy, and more importantly when they will be able to see each film in theaters. There’s still plenty more to be revealed about the movies, including where An Unexpected Journey ends and when Desolation of Smaug begins, not to mention what we’ll actually see in There and Back Again, but we’ll get to that in due time.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey releases on December 14, 2012; its sequel Desolation of Smaug releases on December 13, 2013; and the final film in the trilogy, There and Back Again, releases on July 18, 2014.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter