Since just before the SDCC there's been some speculation that plans were changing in the world of the hobbits. The two films, directed by Peter Jackson and detailing the earlier quest of Bilbo Baggins, have been filmed and will be released a year apart, starting from the end of 2012. But with so much rich material in J R R Tolkien's The Hobbit and story of middle-Earth, it was rumoured that there were plans to expand out the project in some way. Today, Jackson confirmed the plans, annoucing that the two films would now be expanded to three and filling out some of the aspects of the book that had previously been sidelined. This will mean that there will ultimately be six films covering the story of the Baggins' quests, full of derring-do, epic battles, magical evils and great CGI battles.
In a statement Jackson said:
"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."