We might not know the full title of Peter Jackson's third and final Hobbit film yet, after all.
Ever since the summer of 2012, when it was announced that Jackson's two Hobbit films would become three Hobbit films, and the subtitle of the second would be The Desolation of Smaug, we've been referring to the third film as The Hobbit: There and Back Again, as have the film's cast and crew. There and Back Again was the title of the second film back when this was only a two-film project, and since the first film kept its original subtitle -- An Unexpected Journey -- it makes sense that the conclusion to the story would also keep its subtitle, which has the added distinction of being the original subtitle of J.R.R. Tolkien's novel. But what if we're wrong? What if There and Back Again was just a placeholder for the third film that has since become an assumed title?
Tolkien fansite TheOneRing.net has "a reliable source" reporting that The Hobbit trilogy's studio, New Line, has just registered another title: The Hobbit: Into the Fire.
Now, before we go any further, it's important to note two things: One, this is an unconfirmed report, and two, as TheOneRing notes, this title may either be something registered "just in case" that's only a potential new title at this point, or a title registered for some sort of unannounced tie-in product (a videogame, say). TheOneRing also notes that this same source told them back in 2012 that New Line had registered the title The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, and while that certainly could have served as a title for the third film, it seems to have gone nowhere.
Now, with all that being said, what if this is an actual new title for this movie, coming to light just eight months before the film's December 2014 release? Can New Line afford to rebrand the movie this late in the game? Well, probably. They haven't released any trailers for the flick yet, or toys, T-shirts and other merchandise, and the first two films made so much money that putting The Hobbit in the title is likely all the brand recognition they really need. So let's move on to the question of why.
If you saw The Desolation of Smaug, you know that (SPOILER ALERT!) Smaug does very little in the way of actual desolating, instead spending most of his time going all Scrooge McDuck on his giant piles of dwarf gold, toying with Bilbo, and doing his best to cook Thorin and company alive within the Lonely Mountain. He is poised to desolate a lot of stuff as the film ends, though, and we'll certainly be seeing his attack on Lake-town in the third film. So, perhaps Into the Fire just seems like a more apt subtitle, as Smaug will almost certainly bring plenty of fire to the party. TheOneRing also speculates that the title could be a reference to the chapter in The Hobbit novel called "Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire," though if you want to name the movie after something in the book, There and Back Again certainly seems like a more obvious way to go.
Of course, this could end up being nothing but a title the film's marketers are trying out, and if that's the case it may very well end up on the reject pile next to titles like The Hobbit: Legolas Is Still Surfing on Stuff, or The Hobbit: Yes We Actually Could Make This Even Longer. Nevertheless, if this does turn out to be the new title of the third film, or if it turns out to be the title of a brand-new fourth Hobbit film that Jackson cobbled together just because he can, you'll known when we know.