Yesterday, Warner Brothers and Legendary Entertainment, the producers behind the forthcoming trilogy of films adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, had a bit of a jarring change.
The second film in the trilogy, which was previously the series closer and titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will now be The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. That film will still hit theaters on December 13, 2013. Its old title has now been reassigned to the third film, which will hit theaters on July 18, 2014, closing out the series.
This also helps Warner resolve a problem that’s been dogging it with Christopher Nolan’s Batman films concluded and the Harry Potter series over with–they’ve got a distinct lack of big, “guaranteed money”-type summer tentpole films. Moving the third film from its presumed winter release date (the first installment, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be in theaters December 14, 2012), it gives the studio a major summer release in 2014 without having to fund or develop anything that wasn’t already on their radar.
Coming in June 2013, they’ve got Man of Steel and while nothing is official yet, persistent rumors have it that the studio is looking to develop Justice League for a summer 2015 release. This puts The Hobbit‘s conclusion directly between the pair of DC franchise films, and buys the studio time to figure out whether they’re going to be able to make hay with DC Entertainment characters or whether they’ll have to buy something else to fill that gap, having recently passed on Stephen King’s epic The Dark Tower.
Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy will be released in High Frame Rate 3D, other 3D formats, IMAX and 2D.