Big news today out of the Shire, Peter Jackson talked to Empire magazine, and told us that (unless there are some large changes before release) that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is going to be the shortest Lord of the Rings movie yet, with a running time currently of 160 minutes. That, though, is without credits.

We did a little research (that is to say, we checked out Blu-rays) and the average running time of the credits for the first three films was around seven and a half minutes (at least for the first two films, the third’s credits ran around nine minutes, but also featured drawings), which would mean that the final run time of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will likely be a little shy of two hours and fifty minutes.

With the announcement of a third movie, it was unknown if the first two films would be cannibalized to give them more footage to play with in the third film, which sounds sort of like a B-sides compilation from the outset. We have to assume the original intended running times for the two Hobbit movies was around three hours because of the three previous films. And it looks like they came close to that with the first film. As easy as it is to complain about short material stretched thin, it’s hard to know if fans or even regular audiences would be pleased with two hour installments of this new trilogy. Audiences likely expect these films to be three hours long, and if there were three two-hour movies it might feel like a rip-off.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is scheduled to open December 14.

Are you anticipating more Hobbit, or are you grudgingly going to see the first film in the hopes of recapturing the old magic?