Peter Jackson and the cast and crew of The Hobbit officially completed principal photography over three weeks ago, just in time to bring footage to showcase at Comic-Con 2012. While seeing 12 minutes of mostly-finished scenery of middle-earth was certainly a highlight of the Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures panel presentation, it was the hints that a brand new movie could be on its way for the franchise: a third part to The Hobbit.
After the con, Peter Jackson, producer Fran Walsh and writer Philippa Boyens reportedly met up to seriously discuss the potential of doing a third film, and as confirmed by Jackson himself this morning, they are going ahead with it. But what will the film be called?
As we know, the previous two-part plan for The Hobbit had each film given a subtitle. The first part, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, coming this December, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again a year later. With the third installment basing itself mostly on 125 pages of appendices that came published with J. R. R. Tolkien's Return of the King and - if rumors are true - an unpublished (more detailed) version of The Hobbit, we can get an idea of what content may appear in the third film. As for a fitting title, some timely domain registrations by MarkMonitor (who Warner Bros. is a client of) this week may reveal what The Hobbit 3 will be titled.
From the registry list, we're looking at two likely options: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug or The Hobbit: Riddles in the Dark. The latter refers to one of the chapter names from The Hobbit novel whereas the former (Desolation of Smaug) refers to a key piece of land featured in the book. It is where the The Battle of the Five Armies - likely the biggest action set piece to be featured in The Hobbit trilogy - takes place and it is the barren area of land Smaug the dragon (fan-made art below) reigned over.
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For my money, getting the name "Smaug" in the title would be the wiser move since the visuals behind the dragon, him laying waste to the town of Dale and the following battles on these lands will be a big focus of the films. There's also the obvious marketing and merchandising that goes with spotlighting the dragon of the trilogy.
Check out Peter Jackson's statement confirming The Hobbit 3 for more on his plans and motivations.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey releases December 14, 2012. The Hobbit: There and Back Again opens a year later on December 13, 2013. The Hobbit 3 releases summer 2014.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
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