[caption id="attachment_139286" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="New Line"][/caption]
UPDATE: "Hobbit" director Peter Jackson announced confirmation of a trilogy on his Facebook page today.
Jackson wrote, "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.'"
When it came time to finally settle in and make "The Hobbit," at first Peter Jackson was all like, "No thanks." Then Guillermo del Toro ditched him and Jackson did the whole, "Alright, I'll make two."
Now that he's tasted the Middle Earth Kool-Aid again, it seems Jackson is so pumped he wants to triple dip on the fantasy saga as The Hollywood Reporter says the Academy Award-winning director is in "deep talks" to turn his duo of "Hobbit" movies into a trio.
Rumors abounded since Jackson teased Comic-Con last week with talk of 125 pages of additional notes by J.R.R. Tolkien which expand world of "The Hobbit," and that he and partner Fran Walsh were "talking to the studio about other things we haven't been able to shoot and seeing if we persuade them to do a few more weeks of shooting, probably more than a few weeks actually, next year."
The plan he's discussing with Warner Bros. right now is to make it a full-fledged trilogy, which could prove a dicey proposition both artistically and business-wise. For one thing, they would have to draw up fresh new contracts (and probably cut some pretty fat checks) for their large cast and above-the-line talent, not to mention securing the rights that took nearly a decade to untangle.
There's also the question which has crossed any fan's mind, which is that "The Hobbit" is a pretty slender volume with a straightforward story, and even with new material to draw from even TWO films seemed to be spreading things pretty thin.
"If we're going to do it, we have to make a decision soon," a production source told THR. "It's strongly driven by the filmmakers' desire to tell more of the story."
This would not be the first time filmmakers have split their movie during post-production. In 1973, producer Ilya Salkind decided to take half of his three-hour version of "The Three Musketeers" and craft a sequel, "The Four Musketeers," released a year later. This pissed the stars off so much that all SAG actors now have a "Salkind clause" in their contract stipulating how many films they're making. Quentin Tarantino also sliced his epic cut of "Kill Bill" into two parts, presumably with a samurai sword.
(Originally published on July 25, 2012, at 10:51 a.m. ET)