Can you blame Warner Bros.? "The Dark Knight Rises" puts Batman to bed for the next few years, and aside from "Man of Steel" next summer, the studio doesn't have any more comic book movies until at least 2015. In 2013, Superman aside, they have a guaranteed hit in "The Hangover Part III," but everything else? It could be argued it's up in the air. Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" played huge for geeks at Comic-Con, but can it cross over? Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Killer" made a limp first impression with its trailer before being bumped. Will audiences care about "300: Battle of Artemisia" with no stars and only a couple players from the first film? Will "Beautiful Creatures" be the studio's "Twilight"? Does anyone care about "The Seventh Son"? But the most noticeable thing in all of these titles? The lack of a recognizable, slam dunk franchise.
Enter, "The Hobbit." With 'An Unexpected Journey' arriving this Christmas and 'There And Back Again' coming the year after, it's the only ongoing, no-brainer, cash-in-the-bank franchise the studio has. And -- shocker -- they want to keep that money train rolling and rolling. So following Peter Jackson's revelation at Comic-Con that he was trying to get Warner Bros. to back additional shooting next summer, with the filmmakers using appendices and J.R.R. Tolkien's notes to pad out the world of Middle Earth, it looks like the studio is eager to meet them halfway.
THR reveals that talks are happening and if everything falls into place, two more months of shooting would take place next summer in New Zealand for what would be a third film, turning "The Hobbit" into a trilogy. Hooray. It's all a pretty shallow, transparent cash grab to be honest -- we thought Jackson and co. were above going the "Twilight" route -- but superfans who want every Tolkien morsel they can muster will be thrilled. But is this a wise move? "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy already sets a tremendously high bar of expectation and if the first two 'Hobbit' films fail to meet that, will audiences want to endure a third chapter? Can they be made to care about the Tolkien leftovers?
But nothing is certain just yet. The rights for all the extra material would need to be firmed up, but more importantly, actors would need to be re-signed to new deals, which probably won't be cheap. And then there's budgeting and other stuff to be sorted, and the clock is ticking. But are you ready for potentially three 'Hobbit' movies, or do you want to see Peter Jackson move on to do something else? Weigh in below. But before you do that, here's the latest video blog from the production.