The final installment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy has a new release date. The Hobbit: There and Back Again, originally scheduled for July 18, 2014, will now hit theaters on Dec. 17 of that year.
The news broke last night on Deadline, and a few possible reasons for the delay have been suggested. For one thing, the July date is also the scheduled release weekend for X-Men: Days of Future Past, another action-heavy movie that might split audiences that weekend. And, as Entertainment Weekly points out, fans of the Tolkien-inspired movies may have become used to seeing them as holiday fare, as all of the other installments, including the earlier Lord of the Rings movies, have been December releases.
The second Hobbit movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which will follow the 2012 installment The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will open Dec. 13, 2013.
There’s no indication that any sort of problem with the movie itself was responsible for the decision, but that doesn’t mean Hobbit fans are happy. Many commenter on the Tolkien fan site TheOneRing.net seem glad for another Yuletide visit to Middle Earth, but one summed up his frustration thusly: “WE WANTS IT NOW! MY PRECIOUSSSSSSS!”