Despite just being one book, The Hobbit is being extended to two films: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. This will allow director Peter Jackson to tell a more expansive and detailed story. But during the San Diego Comic-Con, reports of the film expanding to three films started to surface. This, of course, trickled down to everyone’s Twitter feed, and a variety of sources drilled Jackson during a press conference.
Jackson acknowledged that there were talks of turning The Hobbit into three films, but with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey being released this year, the film split would probably occur at The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
Speaking to Hitfix, Jackson said:
That’s a discussion we’re having, yeah. We have certainly been talking to the studio about some of the material we can’t film, and we’ve been asking them so we can do a bit more filming next year. Which, I don’t know what would come of that, whether it’d be extended editions or whatnot. But those discussions are ongoing.
So Jackson wants to do more filming to possibly extend The Hobbit into three films, but according to a report from Variety, Warner Bros. wants to keep The Hobbit at two. It also could be that we are merely misinterpreting what we are reading, and Jackson could possibly be talking about reshoots. So even if WB does give the go-ahead for some extra filming, that doesn’t mean that it would end up on the final cut. For all we know it could end up on the extended editions.
Jackson went on:
People often assume we earmark scenes for the Extended Edition, which is not true. It may be that we write a scene halfway through the shoot we think we need to tell the story. It’s not until you assemble the film that you start to decide. You end up with a film that’s too long that you need to trim down in order to distribute it… We don’t really know until we get to the end what’s going to be in the extended cut. There will certainly be extended cuts of these I’m sure.
In what seems to be support to the fact that The Hobbit is staying at two films, Jackson spoke to ComingSoon.net. He told the site that nothing was actually confirmed, and talks of a third film happening were nothing more than just a rumor.
So while the following quote denies the rumors, the aforementioned quotes seem to say otherwise:
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 [can] 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, well 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.
Again, Jackson isn’t confirming that The Hobbit will become a trilogy, but is asking the studio for a couple of extra weeks to shoot what they haven’t been able to shoot. The director has the rights to 125 pages of J.R.R. Tolkien’s notes. These notes, which expanded the world of The Hobbit, have already been used in the film. Just how much of these notes were used for the film are unknown and just how much was left out of the original source material is also unknown. So could they use the remaining notes and source material not used in the film for the third entry? Possibly.
Keep in mind, The Hobbit was originally planned as a two-movie project with the second film acting as an original work by then director Guillermo del Toro and Jackson to bridge the events of the first two movies to Lord of the Rings trilogy. We then found out both movies would be used to adapt The Hobbit as faithfully as possible, and that the bridge movie was likely canceled, before once again hearing rumor that a third movie directed by Jackson could come into play and act as the bridge. It seemed that was the last we’d ever hear of those talks now being a few years back, yet here we are again.
In the end, nothing is set in stone. Anything that remains could end up on the extended edition, be used in the rumored third entry, or just stay on the cutting room floor. We will be keeping close tabs on this story as it develops.