Sources close to the production of The Hobbit say the filmmaker has concluded that he wants to turn his upcoming two-film adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien epic into a trilogy. That would require additional shooting that sources say could take place next summer for about two months in New Zealand.
Jackson teased the idea at Comic-Con on July 14, telling fans that he wants to shoot more footage. But since then, sources say that studio Warner Bros., Jackson, producer Fran Walsh and writer-producer Philippa Boyens began exploring the logistics of what it would take to make another movie. Those talks are said to have accelerated in recent days, with the studio on board if the right financial arrangements can be achieved. That includes securing new actor deals for the expansive cast as well as shoring up certain rights associated with the property
“If we’re going to do it, we have to make a decision soon,” says a source close to the production. “It’s strongly driven by the filmmakers’ desire to tell more of the story.”
“It’s about taking the chance to tell more of the incredible tale with the cast we have assembled,” says a source.
Warner Bros. declined to comment.
Another source had this to report:
The Burbank film studio originally planned to release two “Hobbit” movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary prelude to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and principal photography on those two pictures finished in New Zealand this month. The first is set to come out in December, followed by the second in December 2013. The two films combined cost about $500 million.
But Jackson has concluded that there is enough material from the book, as well as the extensive appendixes to “The Lord of the Rings,” to make a third film, according to three people who were not authorized to speak publicly. New Line Cinema, the Warner Bros. unit overseeing production of the movies, is eager to see it happen, and talks are underway with actors and others who would need to sign off on the plan.
A third film is far from a certainty, however, because there are numerous rights-holders and actors with whom new deals must be made. Lead actors in particular hold leverage as they know New Line would need them for the picture. (Actors and some rights-holders had previously made commitments only to two pictures.) Talks with a number of the franchise’s actors — including Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen — have been taking place in the last few weeks.
New Line President Toby Emmerich did not return a call for comment, and Jackson could not be reached for comment.
With its blockbuster “Harry Potter” and Christopher Nolan-directed Batman franchises both now concluded, Warner Bros. is hungry for franchise pictures. It has a handful of tent-pole movie set for release next year, including the Superman movie “Man of Steel” and Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi picture “Pacific Rim.” But so far it has only one film of note on its 2014 calendar — a movie based on the Lego children’s toys.
What plot details would be held back for the third “Hobbit,” and how the first and second would be shaped as a result, is a critical question for fans. Of particular interest is whether Jackson would hold back the climactic battle that takes place at the end of the “Hobbit” book for the third movie.
If Jackson were to keep that battle in the second film, the third movie could center on material from the “Lord of the Rings” appendixes, which have not previously been adapted for screen. (The six appendixes ran with “The Return of the King,” the final book in the trilogy, and feature backstories on many of the characters and cultures in Middle Earth.)