|The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is Part I of the potential trilogy.|
In news that is already rocking my world, it was just released tonight that there's a possible third film coming to the Hobbit movies, directed by Lord of the Rings mastermind Peter Jackson.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is due to be released on December 14, 2012, with The Hobbit: There and Back Again coming out on December 13, 2013.
While a third film is certainly not guaranteed, it has been verified that Peter Jackson has been in talks about another sequel, possibly with actors Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman also participating in the discussion.
One of the largest obstacles to a third film is working out a budget between the directors, producers, and Warner Bros.
The decision to split The Hobbit into two films was greeted with some controversy, as the book is significantly shorter than any of the Lord of the Rings books. Jackson assuaged some of the anger by informing us that the movies would extensively cover topics not explicitly discussed in the books - topics that Hobbit and Lord of the Rings creator J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about in his notes, but never in published material. These topics cover in large part the comings and goings of Gandalf and The White Council, including their overthrowing of The Necromancer (Sauron) from the fortress of Dol Goldur in Mirkwood.
Rumor is that a third movie would draw more from those notes, but also from the Appendices located at the end of The Return of the King. The Appendices cover most of the history of Middle-Earth in very little detail, from brief snippets of the ancient Elves in previous ages through a close look at the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. It's unclear what exactly Jackson would choose to adapt, if the sequel is approved.