The Hobbit sequels get names and release dates

It is only a few months until we’re all going to be sitting in theatres watching the première of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’. A year after that we’ll be sitting down in the same theatres to watch the second movie, and then only six months later it’ll be time for the third.

In other words, “Good News Everyone!” The second and third Hobbit movies have titles and release dates.

The second movie, due out for release on December the 13th of 2013, is set to be titled ‘The Hobbit: The Desolatin of Smaug’, which no, is NOT a spoiler, but rather a geographical reference, so stop your whining!

The third movie, reaching theatres only 7 months later, will be ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’, premièring on July 18, 2014.

“We wanted to have a shorter gap between the second and third films of The Hobbit Trilogy,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros Pictures President of Domestic Distribution in a statement. “Opening in July affords us not only the perfect summer tentpole, but fans will have less time to wait for the finale of this epic adventure.”

Why Extend the Hobbit Movie to Three Movies?

If you know anything about the movie industry then the latest news from Hollywood that Peter Jackson is hoping to turn The Hobbit movies into a trilogy will not be a complete surprise; when there is the smallest chance of further income, they’ll jump at it like a fat kid on cake.

According to three people who were not authorized to speak in the matter, Peter Jackson has determined that there is enough material from ‘The Hobbit’ and the appendices from the original J.R.R. Tolkien authored The Lord of the Rings for a third movie.

And considering that Warner Bros. would love another franchise series of movies, pushing such a beloved series into another movie makes a lot of financial sense; which is really the biggest issue when we come to adapting literature to movies. Literary faithfulness is thrown out of the window in favour of financial benefit.

Several years ago when I was covering movie news for a modest living I kept a close eye on news of the Hobbit. The original details had originally been planned as two movie; one movie for the whole story in the Hobbit, and a second movie to fill in the gap between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings based on information gathered from the appendices published in the third book, The Return of the King.

If I was to plan a third movie in a franchise based on the Hobbit, that’s how I would go about it. The appendices hold quite a lot of potential story.

There you have a chance to tell the story of Aragorn as he fights the dark forces with the Rangers of the North, the Dunedain. It is mentioned in the books that Aragorn, or Strider as he is known to the Hobbits of Bree, has guarded the boundaries of the Shire.

On top of that you have the chance to introduce female characters that Tolkien actually wrote, rather than introducing new characters or creating stories based on characters barely referenced. He romance between Aragorn and Arwen takes places in the appendices and, chronologically, between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Further, the appendices cover stories for the elves of Mirkwood and the Dwarves following on from the finale of the Hobbit.

Lastly, there is the story of Gandalf, the White Council, and their confrontation with the Necromancer. This story eventually dovetails into the story of Sauron returning to Mordor and his renewed search for the One Ring. For you see, the Necromancer that Gandalf goes to “visit” during the middle of the Hobbit is actually Sauron. Spoiler.

However there is thought that the third movie would in fact encompass a mixture of the final battle from the Hobbit and a smaller amount of material from the appendices,

Given how Peter Jackson has marauded through the source material, picking and choosing where he wants and ignoring that which doesn’t please him, extending battle scenes for the sake of entertainment, leaving the story behind, I’m not holding out much hope.

Ok. I might be a little angry on this score.

So here we have our dilemma. Extending the movies based entirely on the Hobbit source material – a much limited quantity compared to Tolkien’s other works – betrays a disregard for the story. On the other hand, turning the material from the appendices into a movie actually strikes me as rather interesting.

Martin Freeman turns down chance to be The Hobbit

According to official sources Martin Freeman, star of The Office, Love Actually, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Sherlock, has reportedly turned down the starring role in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

Image: Martin Freeman, star of The O

Freeman was offered a seven-figure salary to play Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of The Rings prequel film but he reluctantly declined as he was already committed to playing Sherlock Holmes’s sidekick Dr Watson in the BBC drama Sherlock.

"It was one of the most difficult decisions of his career. MGM, who are making the film, only got a formal offer over in the last couple of weeks. It was too late for Martin because he had already signed up for another series of Sherlock. It was agonising but he had no other choice," said a source close to Freeman.

Freeman and Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch have signed up to 20 weeks filming a new series of the hit new show next year.

Sir Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis are all still attached to reprise their roles in the prequel.

See The Hobbit brought to life in Edinburgh this March

Image: The Hobbit stage adaptationBilbo Baggins, a quiet and contented Hobbit, has his life turned upside down when he is chosen by Gandalf the Sorcerer to join Thorin Oakenshield, exiled King of the Dwarves, on his quest to reclaim their kingdom and treasure.

JRR Tolkien’s classic children’s tale is being brought to life with a thrilling production at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh this Spring. Following three hugely successful national tours and two acclaimed capacity seasons at The Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End, the incredible magic of The Hobbit can be seen on Tuesday 23 and from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 March.

This spectacular stage adaptation has been created by Glyn Robbins, known to millions of theatregoers for his adaptations of the CS Lewis classics, including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Festival stage will be transformed into Middle Earth for this classic adventure of wizards, magic rings and a dragon’s treasure.

The Hobbit is directed by Roy Marsden, now best known for his portrayal of Inspector Dalgleish in the televised versions of the PD James novels. It is produced by Vanessa Ford. First produced in 1999, it has played to capacity houses across the UK and in London. Vanessa Ford has been producing family theatre for over 20 years, and like many previous productions, this show can be appreciated on many levels by adults and children alike.

Venue: Festival Theatre
Dates: Tue 23 & Thu 25 – Sun 28 March, Tue – Sat 7.30pm / Sat 2.30pm & Sun 3.00pm
Tickets: £16.50 – £24.00
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
Website: www.festivaltheatre.org.uk

JRR Tolkien created a series of literary works set in the fantasy realm of Middle-Earth, populated with wonderfully original and magical characters. These culminated in the trilogy The Lord of the Rings which had its origins in The Hobbit. A firm favourite with both young and old, The Hobbit has sold over 42 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 26 languages.

This production of The Hobbit hasn’t been seen on the British stage for seven years. It is technologically thrilling with dragons and spiders making appearances. Age 8+ recommended.

There will be a press night on Tue 23 March, 7.30pm, phone Ruth Findlay on 0131 622 8088 or email press@eft.co.uk for more details.