The news has been floating for a long time now, and it is now pretty much confirmed (precioussss) that Peter Jackson's film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit is to be released in three parts, yes, as a trilogy. The first film is called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The second and third films, set to be released in 2013 and 2014 respectively are reported to be titled - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
Having read the book twice now, the second time quite recently, this news brings great joy. For The Hobbit may seem to be a deceptively short tale, considering the lesser number of pages in comparison to Lord of the Rings, but this is happily not true. There is so much happening in the book (and the Gollum episode is just one of the several), that a single movie will not able to provide ample time for the establishment of umpteen characters, excluding the treasure-hunting party.
Now, the three-part movie adaptation of Lord of the Rings too left many parts of the book out and tweaked certain plot elements by characters rather than actions, thus still retaining the epic fantasy's aura. It still resounds on screen as a singular tale, for the main crux of the story is forever moving towards one certain question - Whether the one ring of power will be destroyed or not?
In comparison, The Hobbit tells of a single group of characters, there is no Gondor, Mordor or Minas Tirth in it as diversions. The tale revolves around the adventures of 13 dwarves, a hobbit and a wizard. Therefore, anything missing from the movie is bound to be noticed.
Considering the length, The Hobbit is an easier story to fit into three films than the mammoth Lord of the Rings. Hence, the trilogy makes sense, apart from the commerce angle. Now to see if Peter Jackson can pull it off again. With no more plot spoilers, we await the release of the first part in India on December 14, 2012.