Peter Jackson makes it official: The Hobbit will be a trilogy.

First Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was split into two movies. Then The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn was split into two movies, the second of which comes out later this year. And then, just a few weeks ago, it was announced that Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, would be split into two movies, too.

Peter Jackson, who practically invented the multi-movie franchise by filming all three parts of The Lord of the Rings in one fell swoop, and who had already committed to splitting its prequel The Hobbit into two movies, apparently decided he needed to do something a little extra, just to stay ahead of the pack. And so, last night, on Facebook, he confirmed the rumours that had been swirling around last week, and announced that The Hobbit will now be a trilogy all unto itself.

This has prompted no small amount of grumbling from Tolkien fans who really, really don’t think there’s enough material in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings appendices combined to justify three long films. As my friend Steven D. Greydanus has pointed out, the second film was going to be called The Hobbit: There and Back Again, but that seems a little too brief, now, given how padded Bilbo’s journey is going to be. But perhaps the funniest comment comes via Elizabeth Rambo, who passed along a friend’s quotation of a line of Bilbo’s from The Lord of the Rings: “I feel all thin … sort of stretched … like butter scraped over too much bread.”

Given how bloated and self-indulgent some of Jackson’s films have been — starting, I think we must admit, with the extended edition of The Return of the King and continuing with his three-hour remake of King Kong — there is certainly cause to be concerned about similar bloatage and self-indulgence here. But for now, I’m going to hope for the best, and think back to a time when Tolkien fans were astonished and grateful that The Lord of the Rings was going to be a full-sized trilogy, and not reduced to two movies or even just one. For more on the story behind that, click here.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).

  • Elizabeth Rambo

    Thanks for the mention, Peter. Like you, I hope it turns out well, but I’m doubtful. I’ve never automatically subscribed to “bigger is better.”