Last week, this Nerdbastard dispelled a rumor that Peter Jackson and his overlords at Warner Brothers had plans to turn the two-part Hobbit movie into a trilogy. The reasoning behind the rumor was that they had lots of extra footage and wanted to get it all to the screen. While the reasoning was unsound, it appears as if the rumor may have been right on target. Currently, Jackson, Warner Bros. and two of the producers are in talks to see if making a third film is possible.
The whole thing started when Jackson expressed, half-jokingly, his interest in extending the two films to three. Apparently, Warner Bros. saw the giant floating dollar signs and decided that it may be the best idea ever. They immediately went to work trying to figure out the details.
Before they can even consider green-lighting the extension (which is itself completely unprecedented) they need to go over all the technical, economical and logistical issues that they’ll have to deal with. Old actors will require new contracts, contracts they might try to milk given the situation. Copyrights must be put in order and the same extortion might come from those who hold them. This doesn’t even include the new photography that will need to be shot. Considering that the Hobbit has already cost upwards of $500 million, those in charge will no doubt expect a very solid return before they give this one a thumbs-up.
Alternately, they may look at just trying to reorder what they already have and editing differently to achieve the extra film and save loads of money in the process. It’s a bit of a cop-out to do it that way, and based on what Peter Jackson has said concerning scenes he really wanted to film but didn’t get a chance to, it’s unlikely they’ll go this route. Jackson has stated that he already has plenty more material he’d like to add from both the original Hobbit book and the assorted appendices.
If they do decide to extend The Hobbit into a trilogy, they’ll be seriously racing the clock. The first film is coming out at the end of this year and the second the end of the next. They would need to shoot and edit quickly and stretch the second film into two. Unless they feel like putting together a two-and-a-half hour epilogue, that is.
The big question is: How much money is Warner Brothers willing to spend to get this done and will their returns be big enough to justify it?
Barring a third entry into the time-table, the first installment, An Unexpected Journey is set to release December 14th of this year and the second, There and Back Again on December 13th of 2013.
Thanks to the fine folks at Hollywood Reporter for bringing us the good news.