I had to double-check the calendar. Unfortunately, both it and the searing heat outside confirmed it's not April Fool's Day:
Last month at Comic-Con, Jackson teased fans with the idea that he was interested in pushing beyond his planned two-film adaptation of "The Hobbit." Now, after weeks of intensive talks with Warner Bros. over how exactly that might be achieved, Jackson announced on his Facebook page that he is, in fact, going to turn "The Hobbit" into a trilogy.
As Jackson has acknowledged, "The Hobbit" is a slender story compared with the far more sprawling and complex "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. But the director is drawing not only on the original book, but also on more than a hundred pages of appendices Tolkien later wrote that expanded on the world of "The Hobbit." Jackson is obviously confident that all of this material taken together can sustain three films and hinted in his announcement at what narrative elements will be incorporated to fill out the trilogy.
That's right, get ready for a riveting 45-minute opening sequence chronicling Elven linguistics, followed by Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's Silmarillion, which will be nine six-hour movies long.
The first and third movies will likely have the same titles: An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again, respectively. And according to industry insiders (read: a bunch of us who like to get drunk on Tito's and make fun of The Soup), the second one will be called The Hobbit: A Bunch of Filler Crap About the Battle of Dol Guldur and Also Legolas for No Apparent Reason.
Peter Jackson is suffering from a rare affliction that only attaches itself to movie directors who enjoy such tremendous initial franchise success they hemorrhage so much excessive footage and special features that no editor can save them (I call it Ebola Lucas). Jackson has been exhibiting signs of this since The Two Towers, and the diagnosis was confirmed in King Kong, which sported a three-hour, seven-minute running time (Spartacus was three minutes shorter and covered two years).
At the risk of stretching my disease metaphor beyond its usefulness, Jackson's ego -- like George Lucas's -- has escaped containment. And he's not likely to get any resistance from his own editor. Jamie Selkirk has been with him since 1987's Bad Taste and won an Oscar for RotK. Lucas, on the other hand, is listed as an "uncredited" editor on five of the six Star Wars movies, which is something you can get away with when you finance all your movies yourself.
That technically makes the Star Wars prequels "independent movies." Hee ha ho.
So, realistically, we're looking at ten hours of film. That means every song (we've already heard the emo version of the dwarves' anthem from the trailer) will likely be included, as well as the aforementioned appendix material (I assume that's how Galadriel figures into all of this). Jackson is also going to flesh out secondary characters like Radagast the Brown, a wizardly comrade of Gandalf's (played by Sylvester McCoy, the 7th Doctor) who's mentioned in passing in the book and whose fate is tied in with that of the Necromancer. And then there's Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), who doesn't even exist in the books. But hey, Evangeline Lilly.
Maybe he'll throw in Tom Bombadil as well. Christ, I hope not.
Three movies demand three thrilling climaxes, so here's what I imagine will go down:
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Hobbit 1: Ends with the White Council (Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast and others) forcing "The Necromancer" out of Dol Guldur. This isn't really fleshed out anywhere in Tolkien's writings, but could easily be a big F/X set piece.
Hobbit 2: Ends with the death of Smaug. Sherlock's Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch will have enjoyed their contemporaneously ironic interaction, and Jackson won't hold back on depicting the dragon's destructive capabilities.
Hobbit 3: The Battle of the Five Armies, duh. Plus all the necessary denouements and LotR foreshadowing. Oh, is this ring bad? Will my annoyingly inconsistent use of same cause complications?
A third movie also means another $800 million or so for New Line, but I'm sure that had nothing to do with it.