I may be repeating myself from previous posts, but this needs to be said again. Splitting up a story that could be told in one film into multiple films is not a good idea. "Harry Potter" did it, and got away with it due to the strength of their fanbase, but I don't think that series was improved in any way by the split. "Twilight" and "Hunger Games" will try next, and they'll probably be passable too. However, here comes Peter Jackson, who wants to split a single book, "The Hobbit," into three movies. I don't care how much supplementary material he's managed to find. I don't care how big and impressive he's going to make the battle scenes or what kind of cool cameos he's planning on. "The Hobbit" should not be three movies. Making it into a trilogy is only going to complicate and ultimately diminish a nice, simple, straightforward story that only needs to be told in one movie.
I know this because there has already been a good "Hobbit" movie, the wonderful animated 1977 Rankin/Bass feature that covered all the major points of the book in less than eighty minutes. It could certainly be improved upon, and I'm sure that Peter Jackson and his collaborators are up for it. However, I see absolutely no benefit in dragging out and expanding upon parts of the story that don't need it. I wasn't thrilled with how Peter Jackson handled parts of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, especially in "Return of the King," where some of the most important sections of the book were greatly diminished in favor of beefing up the action scenes. "The Hobbit" has its share of big battle sequences, but they could end up overwhelming the story. What I absolutely do not want to see is "The Hobbit" movies being structured as a prequel to "The Lord of the Rings," and used to lead into the trilogy. Unfortunately, from the initial trailers that have been released, which include shots of the shards of Narsil in Rivendell and a meeting between Gandalf and Galadriel, this may be exactly where "The Hobbit" is heading.
"The Hobbit" was written first in 1937, and stands very much alone from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, that came later in the 1950s. Most editions run barely over three hundred pages, which is shorter than any of the individual volumes of "Lord of the Rings," and it was meant for younger readers. The narrative is nowhere near as complex, and it's filled with more creatures and monsters and small-scale threats. It's an adventure story, but it's not that kind of sprawling epic that Jackson seems to want it to be. I can already see the additions that he's likely to make to the story in order to make up the difference. Gandalf disappears from the book at times, so I bet we're going to learn what he was up to during those absences in considerable detail. Minor characters like good old Radagast the Brown will see their parts expanded. There are also a load of cameos expected from actors who appeared in the "Lord of the Rings" films, including Orlando Bloom as Legolas, and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. Neither character appeared in the book, of course.
I had all of these reservations when "The Hobbit" was supposed to be two films, "An Unexpected Journey," and "There and Back Again." Now they're going to be three, and Jackson has stated that the yet-to-be-titled third film is going to rely heavily on the appendices from "The Return of the King." The appendices are all well and good, and Jackson got some great material out of them for "Lord of the Rings," but I expect that a lot of the story will end up being invented out of thin air. And that's treading on some dangerous ground. It just smacks of artistic compromise and the studios trying to squeeze as much money as the possibly can out of this franchise, no matter what the negative effect may be on their end product. If Jackson wants to make more movies set in Middle Earth, why not do something really ambitious and tackle "The Silmarillion"? Or "The Book of Lost Tales"? I think "The Lay of Luthien" would make a great movie.
I followed the development of the "Hobbit" films for years through all the delays and the MGM bankruptcy and the labor dispute and the changing directors. I was always sure that seeing "The Hobbit" on the big screen be worth it in the end, but now I'm not so sure. After the mixed response to the 48 fps experiment, and now learning about the trilogy plans, my hopes are wearing very, very thin. I'll be in line for the first movie in December, for Martin Freeman as Bilbo if nothing else, but it won't be with very high expectations.