Peter Jackson to make "The Hobbit" into a trilogy

(L-r) JAMES NESBITT as Bofur, MARTIN FREEMAN (front) as Bilbo Baggins, STEPHEN HUNTER as Bombur, GRAHAM McTAVISH as Dwalin, WILLIAM KIRCHER as Bifur, and JED BROPHY as Nori in New Line Cinemaâ??s and MGM's fantasy adventure â??THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY,â?? a Warner Bros. Pictures release. James Fisher

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
Warner Bros.

(CBS/AP) BURBANK, California - Peter Jackson is expanding his two-film adaptation of "The Hobbit" into a trilogy.

The director of the Oscar-winning "The Lord of the Rings" movies said Monday that after viewing a cut of the first film and part of the second that there was room for a third.

In a statement, Jackson said that a lot of J.R.R. Tolkien's tale of Bilbo Baggins would remain untold if a third film wasn't made. The films are set in the fictional world of Middle-earth 60 years before "The Lord of the Rings."

"We recognized that the richness of the story of 'The Hobbit,' as well as some of the related material in the appendices of 'The Lord of the Rings,' gave rise to a simple question: do we tell more of the tale?" he said. "And the answer from our perspective as filmmakers and fans was an unreserved 'yes.'"

"We know the strength of our cast and of the characters they have brought to life," the statement continued, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "We know creatively how compelling and engaging the story can be and - lastly, and most importantly - we know how much of the tale of Bilbo Baggins, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur would remain untold if we did not fully realize this complex and wonderful adventure."

Warner Bros. and MGM will continue their partnership to make the trilogy.

The first film, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," hits theaters Dec. 14, while the second, "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" is set for release on Dec. 13, 2013.

The third film will come out in the summer of 2014.

All three movies are being shot in digital 3-D in New Zealand, which is home to Jackson's Weta Digital special effects house. Principal photography recently finished on the first two films.

Jackson, his wife Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro are listed as co-writers of the first two films.

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