Peter Jackson's upcoming saga The Hobbit will be three films, the director confirmed on his Facebook page. Previously, only a sequel had been confirmed.
He called the expansion to three films "an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, 'A tale that grew in the telling'."
"...On behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, MGM and the entire [cast and crew], I’d like to announce that two films will become three."
The first installment, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will hit theaters December 14, with the second film already set for December 13, 2013.
Jackson made no mention of a schedule for the third film, but said after watching the first and shooting part of the second, a trilogy felt necessary.
"It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made," he said in his statement.
"Recently I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie - and a large chunk of the second.""We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life."
"All of which gave rise to a simple question: Do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? The answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved 'Yes'."
"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, allows us to tell the full story, of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth," wrote Jackson.