There's been buzz about a third Hobbit movie since Comic-Con 2012, where Peter Jackson spoke openly about his desire to expand his two-movie adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel into a full-blown trilogy. The filmmaker's wish has been granted, following recent reports of intensified Hobbit 3 talk.
Jackson is confirming that he's been given the go-ahead on Hobbit 3 from Warner Bros., which is funding the fantasy project. Initial reports say the movie will be a Summer 2014 release, breaking from the tradition where Jackson's Middle-earth movies are released during December (and a year apart). That's assuming The Hobbit: There and Back Again doesn't change from a December 2013 release.
The genesis for a third Hobbit film stems from the supplementary material Tolkien wrote about the history of Middle-earth, going into far greater detail than either Tolkien's original Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings book trilogy. The Silmarillion is one of the better-known examples (outside the inner circle of hardcore Tolkien fans, that is), but Jackson revealed that the Tolkien estate holds the film rights to that epic tome, during The Hobbit's Comic-Con panel.
Deadline has the scoop on Jackson announcing that Hobbit 3 is on the way, and the site reiterates several discussion points we've already raised. The biggest, of course, concerns continued public skepticism about whether the basic Hobbit story foundation can stretch to cover three movies without becoming thin (even with padding, in the form of additional Tolkien narrative material incorporated by Jackson and his writing staff).
It seems that Jackson and his fellow filmmakers own the rights to 125 pages of the appendices that Tolkien published as the conclusion to the Return of the King novel. There have also been whisperings that Jackson has been drawing inspiration from an unpublished version of The Hobbit written by Tolkien, who fleshed out certain characters and retooled plot points so that the story has stronger ties to the Rings trilogy (note: that's less official, more rumor at this stage).
Reactions to Hobbit footage shown at CinemaCon and Comic-Con were positive, despite a mixed reception to the native 48 high-frame rate format (teased at the former). Thus, for the time being, there's little reason to not be excited about an additional Hobbit movie - seeing as Jackson feels it's a worthwhile endeavor that could even cross into unexplored (and, more importantly, worthwhile) narrative territory.
Here is an official statement from Peter Jackson, on the matter:
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 [co-writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens] and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first [Hobbit] 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.
Keep your eye on the Screen Rant main page for more updates on The Hobbit 3 (including, the planned production schedule, cast re-negotiations, additional costs, etc.).