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There will forever and always be a deep connection between director Peter Jackson and the world of Middle-earth. The New Zealand-born filmmaker proved himself to be the perfect man to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's work to cinematic life with The Lord of the Rings trilogy back in the early 2000s, and while it looked for a time that he would be handing the franchise over to Guillermo del Toro for The Hobbit, ultimately it was decided that really only Jackson could do the job. The bond between artist and material is undeniably real - and it's the reason why Ian McKellen believes that Peter Jackson may not be done with Middle-earth just yet.

The legendary actor revealed his thoughts to the BBC at the London premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which is now just a couple weeks away from its domestic release and will conclude the Hobbit trilogy that began in 2012. Discussing the anticipated finale of the franchise, McKellen reflected on the last time it was apparently "all over" for Peter Jackson and told the reporter,
"I was told by Peter, in 2001 that that was the end, that it was all over. Here we are 13 years later. So I don't believe necessarily that this is the end of the journey."

Of course, while Ian McKellen truly believes in the connection between Peter Jackson and J.R.R. Tolkien's greatest work, the truth is that reality may make further big screen adventures an impossible dream. As I've written about in the past, there has long been a good deal of contention between the movie studios responsible for the Middle-earth films and the Tolkien estate. As it stands, the only piece of canon literature left in the series is the book known as The Silmarillion, but MGM and New Line don't currently have the rights to turn that material into a movie. Considering that Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's son, once said that the Lord of the Rings trilogy "gutted the book, making an action movie for 15-25 year old," it's doubtful that they will budge on the issue in the future.

When The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is released later this month, it will be interesting to see where audiences stand when it comes to the idea of more films set in Middle-earth. Will the movie prove to be a satisfying conclusion that wraps up the entire franchise? Will it be rejected, and have audiences begging for the franchise to be over? Or will it be so good that people will be left wanting more? Only time will tell.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will be arriving in theaters on December 17th. Are you properly excited?

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