The final film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy based on JRR Tolkien’s children’s fantasy classic The Hobbit will be released in December 2014, five months later than previously announced.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again, which follows last December’s An Unexpected Journey and this coming December’s The Desolation of Smaug into cinemas, is being moved back to bring the new triptych in line with Jackson’s previous Middle-earth saga, The Lord of the Rings, each chapter of which arrived for the holiday season. Studio Warner Bros, which is co-financing The Hobbit with MGM, revealed the new date – 17 December 2014 – on Thursday in a statement. “We’re excited to complete the trilogy the same way we started it, as a holiday treat for moviegoers everywhere,” said distribution president Dan Fellman.
Despite falling short of the kind of critical plaudits which garlanded Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey recently became the New Zealand director’s second highest-grossing movie (behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) with m at the global box office. The Return of the King took bn worldwide and swept the board at the 2004 Oscars; An Unexpected Journey had to be content with nominations for makeup, visual effects and production design, none of which it won.
Nevertheless, a box-office haul that hints at repeat viewings suggests there is considerable appetite for future instalments of The Hobbit, itself something of a vindication for Jackson’s decision to split Tolkien’s breezy tome in three and screen the films at an unprecedented 48 frames per second in many cinemas. The next episode, The Desolation of Smaug, features such famous Tolkien passages as the journey through the forest of Mirkwood (complete with encounters with giant spiders and mischievous wood elves) and Bilbo’s first encounter with the great wyrm himself, voiced by Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch.
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