Peter Jackson first mentioned at Comic-Con two weeks ago that he was toying with what to do with all the extra footage he has shot for a two film adaptation of The Hobbit. Now, reports are hot and heavy that he’s actually going to turn his two films into a trilogy. When I spoke with Peter Jackson about The Hobbit in San Diego, he was very excited about the 125 pages of notes in an appendices that JRR Tolkien wrote and included in the final The Lord of the Rings novel Return of the King. I’m told now that the possibility is perhaps better than it was then that this might happen, but that it is by no means a certainty. There are internal discussions, and I have to say, they make me wince. There wasn’t a wasted second in LOTR, with the films building to a satisfying, nearly $1.2 billion worldwide gross and Oscar-winning conclusion. I read The Hobbit numerous times and I don’t think that Bilbo Baggins has three films in him.

Jackson told me that the notes written by Tolkien presaged his intention to update The Hobbit and give it more of the weight of Lord Of The Rings. Here’s what he said:

“That goes back to JRR Tolkien writing The Hobbit first, for children, and only after did he develop his mythology much more over the 16 or 17 years later when The Lord of the Rings came out, which is way more epic and mythic and serious. What people have to realize is we’ve adapted The Hobbit, plus taken this additional 125 pages of notes, that’s what you’d call them. Because Tolkien himself was planning the rewrite The Hobbit after The Lord of the Rings, to make it speak to the story of The Lord of the Rings much more. In the novel, Gandalf disappears for various patches of time. (more…)