With the summer superheroes out of the way, the next of the “most anticipated movies of 2012” is queued up and ready to go—Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth, The Hobbit. The film, subtitled An Unexpected Journey, is due in theaters in December. Part two, There and Back Again, is set for next December. And now, stemming from remarks made at Comic Con, it has come out that Jackson and his producing partners are in talks with Warner Brothers to extend the series yet further, with a third movie. In theory, this third Hobbit film would require several months’ worth of new material to be filmed, and would be in theaters in 2014.

I am a big Peter Jackson fan from way back, pre-Lord of the Rings (Meet the Feebles  is a kind of litmus test for my friends—if you think it’s funny, we’ll get along fine), and I’d like to be excited about this, except I was already scratching my head as to how Jackson & Co. were going to pull two full-length movies out of The Hobbit, a much shorter book than the Lord of the Rings, let alone finagle a third. I’m worried about the creative process here, sure, but I’m also hung up on what a transparent money grab this is.

Jackson’s career post-LOTR hasn’t been that impressive. He tried some go big or go home filmmaking with King Kong and The Lovely Bones, and while both those films have some merits, overall they weren’t great. He did better as a producer with District 9 and The Adventures of TinTin, but when he announced he was adapting The Hobbit, it felt like a strategic retreat from a disappointing run of films. And now he wants to prolong it by another year with a third installment of The Hobbit. What would this one be subtitled? And Back Again, Because Middle Earth is Really Swell?

The only reasons to push a premise already stretched thin (The Hobbit is, at best, about three hundred pages long) into a third movie are self-indulgence and a money grab. These are not traits I have ever associated with Jackson, but with another nerd king and trilogy-ruiner, George Lucas. Lucas never knows when enough is enough, and he’s wrecked Star Wars with his constant revising (Han shot first!) and greed-fueled reissuing of ever more “improved” box sets of the movies (people, PLEASE stop buying that crap). Jackson seems to be sinking into the same trap; I feel like it’s only a matter of time before he reissues LOTR with “corrections” like giant ice monsters in the background.

Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe Jackson has an idea that is truly special and a third Hobbit movie won’t be a hollow exercise meant to extend the financial gain of one of the most lucrative franchises of the last twenty years. Or maybe we’re in for a monologue about Bilbo’s hatred of sand. (Lainey: um, I have never seen that video before. How did Natalie Portman sit through that sh-t? Also…in 5 years or less they’ll probably be re-introducing Batman. Enough with this!)