Comic-Con 2012 continues to churn out surprises - and one of the show's most intriguing pieces of information wasn't announced on the Hall H floor, it was dropped during the post-panel press line. While fans were scrambling to grab seats for the Marvel Studios panel, Peter Jackson was across the street (winding down after his own Hall H panel) discussing the upcoming pair of Hobbit films - asserting that there were quite a few scenes that the filmmakers didn't have room to include.
Now that principle photography on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again is complete, Jackson is considering extending the set of prequels into a full-blown trilogy.
HitFix was the first to report the news of a potential Hobbit trilogy - snagging the following quote from Jackson:
"We've been certainly talking to the studio about some of the material we can't film. And we've been asking them if we can do a bit more filming next year. Which I don't know what would come of that, whether that would be extended additions or not. But those discussions are ongoing [...] I'd like to shoot a bunch more material that we can't shoot. There's so much good stuff in the appendices that we haven't been able to squeeze into these movies. That's a discussion that we're having."
The news was so compelling that it didn't take long for the topic to resurface during the film's press conference - where the fan-favorite director had more time to clarify his earlier statement. Responding directly to whether or not he'd use the additional material for a third movie, Jackson said:
"It's very premature. I mean we have an incredible source material with the appendices because 'The Hobbit' is obviously a novel but we also have the rights to use this 125 pages of additional notes where Tolkien expanded the world of 'The Hobbit' published at the end of 'Return of the King' and we've used some of it so far (and just in the last few weeks as we've been wrapping up the shooting) and thinking about the shape of the story. Fran and I have been talking to the studio about other things we haven’t been able to shoot and seeing if we could persuade them to do a few more weeks of shooting. Probably more than a few weeks actually, next year, and what form that would actually end up taking. The discussions are pretty early. So there isn't really anything to report but there's other parts of the story that we'd like to tell that we haven't been able to tell yet."
There's no doubt that another film would bring in big money for Legendary Pictures - and please a lot of fans who can't get enough of Jackson's adventures in Middle Earth. In addition, prior installments in the series have shown that the director is capable of both trimming and stretching different story beats in the Lord of the Rings trilogy to translate the narrative into the best movie experience possible. It's certainly possible that he could do the same thing with an additional tale of Bilbo Baggins.
However, some fans already felt that two prequel movies would be a stretch - given the size of the original Hobbit novel - especially when compared to the much larger-scale Lord of the Rings movies. This isn't to say that the final act in a potential Hobbit trilogy would be overdrawn and hollow but "more" isn't always "better" and it does raise questions about whether another film could work in harmony with the movies that are about to be released.
That said, while Legendary has little reason to say no to Jackson, it's extremely unlikely that the director would force a third movie just for the sake of adding another installment in the series - since, as he indicates in the quote, the idea stemmed from seeing an opportunity to bring even more of Tolkien's creations to the screen. There are few filmmakers that wield the same level of creative control as Jackson - so fans can take comfort that, should the director choose to move forward with a third entry, it'll be a worthwhile pursuit.
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in theaters on December 14th, 2012.