The rumors have been flying for weeks—ever since Comic-con—that Peter Jackson was going to turn The Hobbit into a trilogy instead of the originally slated duology (which I know is not a real word). Jackson had first floated the idea before Comic-con to mixed reactions. But he must have made up his mind after he’d shown a standing room only crowd of people his “reel” of The Hobbit (about twelve minutes of footage) and watched the audience go berserk. And I’m talking gang-of-hungry-Hobbits-at-a-free-beer-and-mushroom-eating-contest berserk. The audience couldn’t get enough. People, it turns out, still love Hobbits.
Now cynics will say that Peter Jackson has a billion reasons for doing a third Hobbit movie, and each one of those reasons is one US dollar. Because The Lord of the Rings trilogy netted about a billion dollars per film after all was said and done (combined box office receipts and the three different DVD versions—theatrical, director’s cuts and Blu-ray).
But I think the reason Peter Jackson wants to do three movies is simple. They’ve shot so much fantastic extra material, and they think the story is so rich that it deserves a third movie to adequately tell the tale. We have to remember that Jackson & Co. have been using the appendices to The Lord of the Rings to fill in the narrative gap for when Gandalf leaves Bilbo and the Dwarves at the entrance to Mirkwood, and heads south to fight the Necromancer at his fortress of Dol Guldur. (Gandalf doesn’t return to the narrative of The Hobbit until Bilbo shows up at the Elven-king’s camp with the Arkenstone, almost four months later.) I’ve talked to many Tolkien fans over the years who’ve all speculated about what might have happened in Tolkien’s most famous “offscreen” story. And I can’t wait to see what the Kiwis come up with.
We all crave stories of heroism and adventure. But there’s something so wonderful and, well, human, about a frightened guy like Bilbo who leaves his sheltered existence, finds his courage, and yet keeps his Hobbitness (i.e. his humanity) intact. That’s why we love Hobbits and Tolkien’s stories so much, and why I am absolutely thrilled that they’re going to make three films. The funny thing is, someday we’ll probably get the director’s cuts of the Hobbit Trilogy and sit around complaining about how they cut so many great scenes from the theatrical release, just like we did when The Lord of the Rings director’s cuts were released!
The Hobbit 3: Return of the Hobbit. Bring ‘em all on. And then will somebody please do The Silmarillion?