Unlike the first two films, which unspool over consecutive Christmas frames, the final “Hobbit” installment was expected for a summer release in 2014. No firm date was affixed, however.
Jackson said at Comic-Con that there was plenty of extra footage from the two-picture shoot, and hinted at the possibility of a third film. The Los Angeles Times subsequently first reported that the “Lord of the Rings” helmer and the studio were quietly talking about fashioning the project into a trilogy.
Jackson then confirmed in a Monday morning Facebook post that a third pic was in the works.
“The richness of the story of , 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,” Jackson wrote. “So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of ‘The Hobbit’ films, I’d like to announce that two films will become three.
Principal shooting wrapped on the first two “Hobbit” films earlier this month, and though Jackson has plenty of b-roll to work with, a third pic will require a re-start of production. That means the filmmakers had to renegotiate and work out schedules with dozens of rights-holders, thesps and other people with leverage.
Though some of those deals still need to be buttoned up, enough official business is complete that Jackson can begin stretching the narrative. His plan is to use material drawn from J.R.R. Tolkein’s notes, various appendices he wrote after “The Lord of the Rings” and other material from within and without “The Hobbit” itself, which kicked off the Middle-Earth mythology in 1937 with a fairly straightforward there-and-back-again hero’s journey that was originally intended for young readers.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpexted Journey” is set for a Dec. 14 release; the sequel is slated for Dec. 13, 2013.