Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is turning into something of a never-ending story. The much-anticipated follow-up to Jackson's Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy was initially conceived as a two-part production, but was later expanded into its own full-fledged trilogy.
In addition to Bilbo's discovery of the One Ring and his showdown with the dragon Smaug, the trilogy will feature sequences based on some of author J.R.R. Tolkien's notes. This allows Jackson to include other members of the original Rings cast, including Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Frodo (Elijah Wood), and more effectively connecting the story of The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings.
Warner Bros. has confirmed that the first film in the new trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will receive the Extended Edition treatment in a late 2013 home video release - just in time to promote the theatrical release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The news comes from Movies.com, which has posted an extensive listing of the studio's planned releases for that year. It's also noteworthy that The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector's Edition is set for release in fall 2013, though this is not expected to include the recently rumored director's cut of The Dark Knight Rises.
The Hobbit extended edition, however, isn't much of surprise. Lord of the Rings fans undoubtedly remember that Jackson previously released extended versions of all three of those films, with the footage ranging from flashbacks to the death of a major character. For most moviegoers, though, the films' three-hour running time is already long enough. So it's likely that only the hardcore fans will scoop up these releases.
For those Hobbit devotees, however, this is fantastic news, as the extended edition will surely provide a more immersive experience for An Unexpected Journey. Also, if Jackson's first Hobbit film is getting such a release, expect the other two to follow suit.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on December 14, 2012, followed by The Desolation of Smaug on December 13, 2013 and There and Back Again on July 18, 2014.