There were rumblings last week, but it’s been confirmed, Peter Jackson is turning his Hobbit movies into a trilogy. Word was that he would be getting the team back together for two months to film some of the additional material from J.R.R. Tolkien’s additional material sometime next year.

Here would be the money quote from Jackson’s press release:

We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance.  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.

The big joke with this announcement is that he was able to take The Lord of the Rings – three meaty novels – and turn them into a movie a piece, whereas here he’s taking the shortest book of the series and turning it into three movies. And where the LOTR trilogy got by with being a little ramshackle in it’s pacing, it was partly because we knew how much narrative had to be crammed into each of the three hour plus films, which all became that much longer on DVD with extended cut editions.

And it’s also worth noting that Jackson came to directing this after having Guillermo del Toro attached for years to direct the two-part version, and that Jackson’s last two films are easily his weakest (even weaker than something like Bad Taste), which is why there’s a level of cynicism and skepticism when it comes to this move.

If this decision is being made as of today, it seems likely that the film we will get in December should be close to the version originally conceived of, though we have to assume both films were planned to have a three hour running time, so how much shorter it is than that would be the most obvious sign of reshuffling. Jackson, ever the special feature fan, will likely let us know after the fact what changes were made. We’re also hearing the third film would be prepped for a Summer 2014 release, which would mean it would be the first of the series not released in December. Slashfilm has a list of possible titles for the third film, which include Riddles in the Dark and The Desolation of Smaug.

Still pumped for The Hobbit?