It's confirmed: 'The Hobbit' to become three films
Jackson posted a letter today, confirming his reasons for the expansion:
“It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’
We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance. The richness of the story of The Hobbit, 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.
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.
It has been an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, “a tale that grew in the telling.”
While there have been some grumbles across the ‘net from fanboys and girls, this does seem logical for many reasons. While its extra payday for studios, one guesses that the actors and production crew will gain an extra paycheck as well (at least I hope). Jackson said at Comic Con that they would still need to film more footage next year, to encompass the extra 125 pages of material from the Appendices in The Return of the King.
Plus, as Jackson seems to begrudgingly admit, the estate of Tolkien was never pleased with his version of The Lord of the Rings, mostly, it seems, because of the liberties he took with the story. That included dropping characters and compressing the story and moving of certain set pieces (the spider Shelob moved from movie two to movie three). Jackson defended these changes because movies are presented in a mostly linear way. Plus, to heighten suspense, it required they be moved.
So, with that in mind, the author’s estate is holding on to other material that is not owned by MGM, New Line Cinema or Warner Bros. In particular is The Silmarillion, which started life in 1914 as a book on English mythology that would explain the origins of English history and culture. Over the next two decades he would write extensive stories and eventually submitted it to his publishers, eager to capitalize on the growing success of 1937’s The Hobbit. Rejected by the publisher for various reasons, Tolkien continued to work and revise it before devoting his time to what eventually became The Lord of the Rings.
In the last half of The Return of the King, Tolkien added material that filled in some of the backstory of events that he chronicled in The Hobbit (there are stretches of time were Gandalf is gone, and in these Appendices, Tolkien explains where he was).
So, as the story goes, Tolkien spent the rest of his life working on what would be posthumously published by his son Christopher as The Silmarillion. Contained in that book is a vast backstory of events that take place before and after The Hobbit and other material that leads eventually into The Lord of the Rings.
What becomes clear is that Tolkien intended to revise much of his Middle-earth world, but only sketched out a few notes before his passing.
So with The Hobbit, Jackson was hobbled by certain material he and the studio did not have access to and would never get anyways, so they decided to take what material they did have and not waste it. So, in the end, much of what he’s trying to do makes sense. Without the estate making The Silmarillion available to the studio, the odds are we will never see another adaptation of a Tolkien work until someone in the future decides to reboot it and follow the estates wishes.