Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. are in negotiations to release the film adaptation of “The Hobbit” as a trilogy instead of in two parts, two individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.
Jackson wrapped production on the film in early July, posting a picture on Facebook before showing a video from the set days later at Comic-Con in San Diego.
While at the San Diego Convention Center earlier this month, the "King Kong" director also teased the possibility of shooting more footage for "The Hobbit."
Talks between Jackson and New Line (a subsidiary of Warner Bros.) have since accelerated, though no deals are in place.
A spokeswoman for New Line declined to comment.
The dealmaking process is quite complicated, from negotiating new deals with the actors as well as other involved parties including MGM and the Weinstein brothers. As one person familiar with the talks described it, they are going down the food chain of major participants, which starts with Jackson.
The actors, including stars Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen, also hold a great deal of leverage since Jackson could not film additional footage without them.
One individual with knowledge of the conversation said they would combine material Jackson already filmed -- and there's a ton of it -- with new footage. Some of that may come from the appendices of "The Lord of the Rings," which Jackson is quite fond of.
When Warner Bros. and Jackson first decided to split the film into two parts, the studio went through the same dance of negotiating new deals with the aformentioned parties.
As of now, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will debut Dec. 14 while the second film, “There and Back Again,” is set for Dec. 13, 2013.
For Jackson, extending the movie into three parts offers the opportunity to spend more time reimagining his beloved middle earth, the setting of both “The Hobbit” and his “Lord of the Rings” adaptations. All of the “Lord of the Rings” films were released on DVD with extended cuts that featured extensive additions.
“I’m not good at making short movies unfortunately,” he joked at Comic-Con. “It’s a skill I’ve never mastered.”
For all of the participants, a third film would mean a lot more money as the films are all but guaranteed to succeed at the box office.
For Warner Bros., a third "Hobbit" film would also grant the studio another tentpole film at the same time one of its biggest franchises --Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” films -- concludes.
In the past two years, Warner Bros. has bid goodbye to two profit-churning franchises – “Harry Potter” and Batman. It still has an impressive slate of big-budget films booked for next year, including the third “Hangover” film, Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” and “Man of Steel,” Zack Snyder’s reboot of Superman.
Yet after that, things get murkier.
If “Man of Steel” succeeds, the studio can consider a sequel and also fast-track the “Justice League” film in development.
Legendary Entertainment, which has a deal with Warner Bros., teased a “Godzilla” reboot at Comic-Con. That company is one of several high-profile partners that the studio can rely on, including Village Roadshow, Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio and Todd Phillips.
Still, for now, a “Lego” movie is the sole headliner in 2014. A third “Hobbit” movie would change that.
The Los Angeles Times first reported that talks about a third movie were taking place.