Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, behind the scenes

James Fisher/New Line Cinema

There's more Middle-earth now that The Hobbit's big-screen saga is a trilogy. But was it just about making more money?

Ever since Peter Jackson revealed his plan to expand his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's book from two to three parts, there's been much criticism that the director and Warner Bros. are simply doing so to nab a few extra bucks at the box office.

But the filmmaker insists that's not the reason at all.

While speaking at a press conference in New York City to promote the first installment of the series, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Jackson told reporters on Wednesday how the decision to turn J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novel into three movies instead of two came about.

"The book is written in a very brisk pace, so pretty major events in the story are covered in only two or three pages," Jackson said. "So once you start to develop the scenes, and plus you wanted to do a little bit more character development, plus the fact that we could also adapt the appendices of Return of the King, which is 100-odd pages of material that sort of takes place around the time of The Hobbit. So we wanted to expand the story of The Hobbit a little bit more, as did Tolkien himself. So all those factors combined gave us the material to do it."

Meanwhile, Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in the films, was quick to support Jackson.

"Anyone who thinks Peter Jackson would fall for market forces around him rather than artistic integrity doesn't know the guy or the body of his work," he said.

As for casting the lead role of Bilbo Baggins, Jackson knew immediately Sherlock star Martin Freeman was his man, er, hobbit.

"Martin was the only person that we wanted for that role," Jackson said. "We knew him from The Office and Hitchhiker's Guide [to the Galaxy], and we just felt he had qualities that would be perfect for Bilbo. The stuffy repressed English quality. He's a dramatic actor, he's not a comedian, but he has a talent for comedy."

Guess we'll know for sure if Jackson made the right choice in choosing Freeman when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on Dec. 14.

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