Released in the UK December 12, 2012, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows an inquisitive Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), as he is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug, voiced by Freeman’s Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch.
The following year, December 13, 2013 sees the release of the newly-coined The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, while just seven months later, on July 18, 2014, the trilogy wraps up with The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
“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,” announced Jackson a month ago. “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,” concludes Jackson, “and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, “a tale that grew in the telling’.”