The Hobbit's second film is now the third film; titles and release dates announced
|NEWS - MOVIE NEWS|
The final film will now be released in July 2014 rather than December 2014...
In a recent update to the release dates and (sub)titles of the three Hobbit films, the film that was originally going to be the second of two films before it was announced that The Hobbit will be a trilogy, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will now be the third of the three. The second, which will presumably be largely made up of additional material adapted from Tolkien's extensive notes, now has a title: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. In addition, the final film will now come out in summer 2014, as opposed to December 2014 as originally planned. The first film's title and release date remain unchanged.
We'll still be going There and Back Again, it'll just take a little longer...
(Or not, since the final film of the trilogy will now come out five months earlier, so even though the film will be released later, the trilogy itself will be completed sooner. Okay, that's slightly confusing.)
So the titles and release dates of the three films will be:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - December 14, 2012
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - December 13, 2013
The Hobbit: There and Back Again - July 18, 2014
Dan Fellman, Warner Brothers’ President of Domestic Distribution, said:
“We wanted to have a shorter gap between the second and third films of ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy. Opening in July affords us not only the perfect summer tentpole, but the fans will have less time to wait for the finale of this epic adventure.”
Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, Warner Brothers’ President of International Distribution, said:
“‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ will be an action spectacle and an emotional conclusion for this already much-anticipated trilogy. Opening in the summer will maximise playability for what promises to be an event film for fans the world over.”
The phrase "an action spectacle" hints that perhaps The Battle of the Five ARmies might be saved for the third film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
This release date strategy is interesting from a financial perspective. There’s obviously the risk of audiences feeling oversaturated, with less time for the second film to soak in and anticipation for the third one to build, but obviously they’re hoping that the third film will build on the momentum of the second. Also, this means that the third film will benefit from a summer release date, which is typically more lucrative for blockbusters, though the Lord of the Rings trilogy (and similar films) have carved out a box office niche with releases around Christmas time.
Going by past box office experience, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was obviously extremely successful releasing the films a year apart (with each film making more worldwide than the previous one), though it may have felt like trekking through Mordor for many fans.
Several other franchises, however, have tried the strategy of having a short window between the second and third films. For instance, back in 2003, both the Matrix and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchises released their second and third instalments about six months apart. In both cases, the second made more money worldwide than the third, though this was arguably due to audience disappointment, having had their expectations raised so high by the first film. But for both of these franchises, the second and third instalments were both very successful, and who knows, had they been released a year apart, the drop-off could have been worse.
And looking even further back, to 1989/1990, Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III were also released six months apart, and similarly showed a decrease from the second to the third film.
And next year, LucasFilm will re-release Star Wars Episode II and Star Wars Episode III in 3D, only three weeks apart.
However, with all of these examples, the second and third films follow on from each other story-wise, whereas the first instalments work in a more standalone fashion, while clearly keeping the door open for further adventures. In contrast, The Hobbit is an adaptation of a book which tells one complete story, so, presumably as with The Lord of the Rings, all three parts will fit together to form one coherent whole; a sort of mega-story, if you like; an epic trilogy. Of course, this will be complicated by the fact that Peter Jackson and co. are incorporating a lot of material from Tolkien’s other work in the world of Middle Earth, including the Lord of the Rings Appendices, which was one of the key reasons for expanding from the originally planned two films to three.
Incidentally, this means we’ll see all three Hobbit films almost a year before The Avengers 2 comes out. (That's an entire trilogy sandwiched between two instalments of another franchise.) With The Avengers having broken records this summer, and now standing as the third highest grossing film of all time (not adjusted for inflation), it’ll be interesting to see if the Hobbit films can surpass it, or maybe at least break some of its records. (Now that The Dark Knight Rises is near the end of its run, approaching $1bn (it’s good, but it’s not Avengers money…), the Hobbit films are probably the best bet anyone has of beating The Avengers at the box office, at least until Avatar 2 finally comes out.)
Cue pointless arguments over whether Joss Whedon or Peter Jackson is better. (The correct answer: They’re *both* geniuses.)
Box office numbers (based on worldwide unadjusted figures) from:
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