31 July 2012 by Luke McCormick
Director Peter Jackson is to split the Hobbit films into a trilogy after wrapping shooting in New Zealand last month with enough material to turn the expected two films into three.
The new material is likely to link the films with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, although there has been surprise as J.R.R Tolkien's original The Hobbit book is only 320 pages long and lacks the depth of the follow-up The Lord of the Rings, which includes the volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
It was originally expected that the film adaption of The Hobbit by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker, set in Middle-Earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, would be released in two installments.
However after viewing first cuts of the two films Jackson said there was more of the story to tell: "We recognized that 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, gave rise to a simple question: do we tell more of the tale?"
"We know the strength of our cast and of the characters they have brought to life.
"We know creatively how compelling and engaging the story can be and - lastly, and most importantly - we know how much of the tale of Bilbo Baggins, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur would remain untold if we did not fully realise this complex and wonderful adventure," he said.
"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."
Tolkien wrote detailed notes on the history of Middle-Earth, which he turned into six appendices that appear at the end of The Lord of the Rings.
These appendices act as a bridge between the two stories that are very different in tone and scope and also help to explain the lengthy absences of Gandalf during the novel.
In the appendices Tolkien reveals that Gandalf is away battling the Necromancer, an evil force who threatens to unleash an army of darkness from his fortress in the forest of Mirkwood.
It turns out the Necromancer is none other than the Dark Lord Sauron, the primary antagonist in The Lord of the Rings, whose forces search desperately for the ring of power.
It is expected that battle to oust Sauron from his fortress in Dol Guldur will likely form the bulk of the new material and allow Jackson to connect The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings more closely.
All three movies are being shot in 3D with principal photography taking place in Wellington and on location throughout New Zealand.
The first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be released December 14, 2012, with the second film released on December 13, 2013, and the third film slated for summer 2014.