"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."
Oh wait, that's Star Wars, created by George Lucas. But that's to whom Peter Jackson is being compared, in some corners, following his decision to extend the film adaptation of The Hobbit. There will now be three films instead of the originally planned two.
Of course, people were anxious when Jackson announced two films. After all, The Hobbit is a fraction of the size of The Lord of The Rings. One book instead of three, and about 300 pages instead of more than 1,000. The argument was that while two films worked for LotR, it would not translate so well to "Hobbit". But after a time people seemed to get used to the idea of two films.
People are even less sure about three. The main worry people have is that there is simply not enough material from the book to carry it through three movies. Or, at least, not enough to do it without it seeming filler-y in places. So, even with some original material thrown in that didn't originally appear in the book, as was already planned, can it work?
In my view...it depends. It's very, very easy to do this thing wrong. For example, I didn't particularly think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows needed two films. Although two allowed it to stay truer to the book, I also didn't like how much of the book saw the main characters in hiding. I thought the movie could have shortened that period and and have been better for it.
So there's an example of how trying to stretch almost all the material across two films didn't translate well. "Hobbit" has even less than that. While it's my understanding that content will be taken from the extensive appendices includes with LotR, I still have concerns.
The material is mostly facts and figures, and not much on the narrative. We're talking names and places, information about languages and calendars, and a lot about the early history of Middle Earth that wouldn't make sense to include in The Hobbit. There is an entire appendix devoted to Hobbits, but it's all family trees. Not enough to stretch into three movies, I think. And it's also kind of dry reading (yes, I've read it all).
The only thing that might really work in the context of this movie is the brief story, set immediately preceding that told in The Hobbit, which discusses the background. But we're talking like, what, 20 additional minutes movie time with that narrative added? I'm just not convinced that it's enough to warrant an additional movie.
The thing I can definitely see three movies accomplishing is giving each "chapter," for lack of a better term, the resolution we typically expect. If each movie was shorter than any of the LotR films (as is being speculated), and then had a climax at each of three "big points" (such as the entry to Mirkwood, the death of Smaug, and the end of the Battle of Five Armies), that would work well. But it'll take more than just an expected emotional resolution to make three movies.
I just don't see the rationale for it yet. However, Peter Jackson is not George Lucas. The LotR movies were great, in my opinion, and a lot of that has to do with Jackson. If there is a man who can put together three good movies out of such a short book, it'll be him. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.