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It’s official- The Hobbit will be a trilogy

After much speculation it's official - Sir Peter Jackson's long awaited Hobbit movies being filmed in New Zealand will become a trilogy.

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Sir Peter Jackson, the Academy Award winning filmmaker behind the blockbuster The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, recently wrapped principal photography on what he originally planned to be a two-film adaptation of The Hobbit, which is set in Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings.

Jackson said he made the decision for a third after viewing a cut of the first film and a large chunk of the second.

"We know the strength of our cast and of the characters they have brought to life. We know creatively how compelling and engaging the story can be and-lastly, and most importantly-we know how much of the tale of Bilbo Baggins, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur would remain untold if we did not fully realize this complex and wonderful adventure."

Jackson said he was delighted that New Line, MGM and Warner Bros. were equally enthusiastic about bringing fans the expansive tale across three films.

"With the abundance of rich material, we fully endorse the decision to further develop what Peter, Fran and Philippa have already begun. We are confident that, with the great care the filmmakers have taken to faithfully bring this journey to the screen, the film will be welcomed by the legions of fans across the globe," said Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema and Roger Birnmaum, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MGM.

The first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released December 14, the second December 13, 2013, and the third slated for summer 2014. All three films will be released in 3D and 2D.

The move has been welcomed by the New Zealand tourism sector who see The Hobbit movies as a valuable opportunity to showcase New Zealand landscapes, experience and creative ability.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said "New Zealand will play a starring role in these productions and the international attention the country will receive will be significant with each movie.

"For that attention to now span three movies is fantastic news. We will continue to work hard alongside our NZ Inc and industry partners to take that attention and convert into travel to New Zealand."

Tourism New Zealand is using 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand in campaign work to demonstrate that the fantasy of Middle-earth is in fact the reality of New Zealand - there is a whole world of experiences to be had and people to meet within the movie-scene-like landscapes.

For more information on 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign check out our Hobbit section.