Confirmed: There Will Be a Third 'Hobbit' Movie

The rumblings started at Comic-Con: could it be that New Line was planning to take the two-movie "The Hobbit" series and turn it into a trilogy? Now, weeks later, we have the answer: a definitive yes.

New Line, MGM and Warner Bros. have announced that the first two movies, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," will indeed be followed by a third movie. A statement from director Peter Jackson indicates that the decision was made after footage of the first movie and a bit of the second was reviewed and approved... that's good news for fans, as it seems the first two movies are coming along nicely.

The move also shows the change in thinking on the part of studios over the past few years as far as book adaptations are concerned: if you can get more movies out of it, do it. We have seen the final movies of the Harry Potter and Twilight series be split into two, and "Mockingjay," the third part of "The Hunger Games," will be two movies as well.

"The Hobbit" simply takes that trend to the next step: it splits a single book into three parts. When you consider that the very long, three-book Lord of the Rings series was completed as a movie trilogy with what will probably be about the same runtime as the Hobbit trilogy, that's a big shift in philosophy.

If you're wondering just how they're going to milk three movies out of one 300-page(ish) book, here's the answer: "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?" asked Jackson. "And the answer from our perspective as filmmakers and fans was an unreserved 'yes.'"

So, you can expect some of that material from the appendices of the Lord of the Rings books to appear in the Hobbit trilogy to beef up the content. There's always an argument as to whether these moves are just a cash grab from studios or a service to the fans, but ultimately it seems that both sides win.

The third movie in the Hobbit trilogy is set to release in 2014, about a year after "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" premieres. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will be in theaters this December.