Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Return to the Shire

Well, it was in the works for a fair while, but with Peter Jackson's legal disputes with New Line over monies owed it looked like The Hobbit was something that fans, especially fans of Jackson's LOTR trilogy, would never get to see on the big screen. Until today.

In a sweeping press release MGM and New Line announced the development of not one but TWO Hobbit movies. The first is purported to likely follow the basic story of the novel while the second film, to be shot LOTR style consecutively back-to-back, will cull from the voluminous notes, background sketches, ancillary materials and other resources at the disposal of the Tolkien estate, to finally and effectively (for the movie going public) bridge the gap between The Hobbit story and the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring.

So far Peter Jackson will likely only produce the films rather than direct. And the turnaround time is slated to be rather quick relatively speaking. Pre-production is already underway to an extent, and actual shooting is tentatively scheduled to begin in '09 with the first film set to come out in 2010, and the second a year later. And according to AICN Howard Shore has already begun working on themes for The Hobbit although official word on that should definitely be a long ways off. I suspect Jackson will in fact step into the directing chair, he has such close ties to the material, and since he is already committing the next 3-4 years of his life to these films I don't see why he would want to pass up the opportunity, but only time will tell for sure.

I have to say I am rather relieved to hear this news. I think we ll knew it was coming soon enough; and I'm pretty happy to hear that it will have the hand of Peter Jackson at the helm. Simply put I think his Lord of the Rings films are true masterpieces. I look forward to seeing what he does with The Hobbit, a story I admittedly know much better than the LOTR trilogy. We'll keep posted closely on this one as developments progress.

UPDATE - Entertainment Weekly has gotten to the bottom of the PJ directing rumor, and it looks like he will probably not end up doing it According to EW and Jackson's manager Ken Kamins "Peter won't be directing because he felt the fans have waited long enough for The Hobbit. It will take the better part of every day of the next four years to write, direct and produce two Hobbit films. Given his current obligations to both The Lovely Bones and Tintin, waiting for Peter, Fran, and Phillippa to write, direct and produce The Hobbit would require the fans wait even longer."

Who will direct then? Well according to "Sam Raimi ("Spider-Man" films), Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy" films) and Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men) are names that have come up, but no decision has been made, says New Line's co-chair Robert Shaye. "There is obviously a small but significant number of directors who could handle two films of this magnitude, but we have no commitment to anybody. Now that Peter is an integral part of the decision-making process, we all have to see eye-to-eye on any candidate we try to enlist."

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