Quick, how many Tintin movies are Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson making? We’ve been told three for months and months, but unless I missed a low-key announcement (very possible) we’re now looking at only two pictures. That’s what the New York Times says in passing while discussing the financial future of the series.

A couple of months ago I had to ask what sort of world we’d live in if Steven Spielberg suddenly couldn’t get a film made. The problem was Tintin, which Universal passed on co-financing with Paramount. The reasons seem fairly obvious: while the series has a groundbreaking, impressive creative pairing in Spielberg and Peter Jackson, the character has almost no traction with the American public. Selling the films overseas could be a cakewalk; selling them at home would be a strenuous uphill climb.

Now Sony and Paramount are in talks to co-finance the films. Paramount would distribute domestically and in other English-speaking markets while Sony would handle other foreign territories. The implication in the Times is that this deal would preserve the high-paying deal Spielberg and Jackson had originally angled for, or something close to it. (They’d originally asked for 30% of gross receipts.)

With respect to the series being cut from three films to two, I’m doing some checking. The NYT story is by Michael Cieply, who has been blasted in the past for less than perfect factual reporting. He also mentions that Spielberg has already shot footage for the first film in the series, which corroborates other reports that emerged in late summer.