Peter Jackson just made it official: he's turning his two-film adaptation of The Hobbit into a full trilogy. Discussion time!
Word first surfaced back at Comic-Con that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens were exploring the possibility of stretching their planned two Hobbit movies into three. Their reason is simple: because they can. Even though The Hobbit is a considerably shorter work than The Lord of the Rings, Jackson & Co. are utilizing a wealth of material from the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, which J.R.R. Tolkien used to expand on and recontextualize The Hobbit long after its publication.
So after viewing a rough cut of the first film and “a chunk of the second,” Jackson and his cohorts realized that the strength of what they had could make it possible to dig even deeper and, simply put, “tell more of the tale.” Warner Bros. agreed, and so even though principle photography has wrapped, the cast and crew will return to New Zealand sometime this Summer for an additional two months of filming. In a Warner Bros. press release, Jackson hints that the added material they’ll be able to flesh out thanks to the addition of a third film includes: more of Bilbo’s story, more about the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur. One imagines that just scratches the surface, though.
Now, for the big questions. It’s unknown where in the action the novel was going to be split for the original plan of two movies, but turning it into three has to complicate things significantly. Will this third film consist of a “tacked on” package of material, aka scenes that take place after the events of The Hobbit? There was talk early in development of using the first film exclusively for The Hobbit and the second for a “bridge” story made up of material from the Appendices. The plan was later altered to integrate the extra material into The Hobbit‘s storyline, but this change-of-plan could accommodate some of what they were planning way back when. (Still, it’s hard to imagine that anything in the Appendices could give way to a bigger climax than The Hobbit‘s Battle of Five Armies.)
Then there’s the question of what to call it. The first film is called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. That subtitle is a twist on the first chapter of Tolkien’s novel, “An Unexpected Party.” The second film is subtitled There and Back Again. Tolkien fans know this to be the subtitle of the novel itself. So what will the third film be named? And will the titles be shuffled at all? There and Back Again still seems like the ideal title for the climax of The Hobbit, but depending on which film that happens in, it’s possible that There and Back Again could become the third movie’s title. In any event, what might this just-announced installment be called?
Fusible dug up some brand new domain names just registered by Warner Bros. that could provide the answer. The domain names point to possible titles The Hobbit: Riddles In the Dark and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The former is the title of Chapter Five of The Hobbit. The second is the in-world name of the destruction caused to Middle Earth by Smaug the Dragon; it’s referenced in both of Tolkien’s novels. But there’s no guarantee that either of these will be the title that’s ultimately used. Warner Bros. is probably just covering its bases. There are any number of possible titles that could be lifted from Tolkien’s world. Hobbit chapter titles like “A Thief In the Night” or “The Return Journey” could be just as appropriate. Heck, they could end up calling it The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies if they want.
What do you think the title should be?
The plan right now, according to Jackson, is to break with tradition and not make the fans wait an additional year for the third installment. Instead, he’d like to release the third Hobbit film during the Summer of 2014 — putting it just six months after the second film’s Christmas 2013 release date.