Hobbit to Leave NZ or Not?

Rankin-Bass Cartoon version
Rankin-Bass Cartoon version

Will THE HOBBIT leave New Zealand for greener pastures in Europe? Tensions continue to grow, although the government believes there’s still hope.
According to New Zealand site Stuff.co.nz, director Peter Jackson told the Dominion Post that he had nothing to do with organizing a protest by aproximately 1500 NZ  film technicians against NZ Equity’s blockage of THE HOBBIT being filmed with some extras and performers not necessarily a part of the union or their new parent, the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
Council of Trade Unions’ President Helen Kelly is said to have made statements that apparently implied that the march was cooked up by Jackson and Warner Brothers.

Peter Jackson said:
”I couldn’t believe it. It was the first time I really got very angry. I watched the march on TV. I wasn’t there, and unlike what Helen Kelly’s been saying, I didn’t have anything to do with organising it.
Suddenly I see Helen Kelly and she starts slagging off the production… I’m thinking ‘this is a legitimate march by 1000 people who are basically wondering how they are going to live for the next two years.’

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key thinks the two HOBBIT movies can be saved, and hopes to convince  Warner Brothers executives due to arrive next week.

“My concern is that if Warner Brothers deems New Zealand is not a good place to make movies, then there is a real risk other major film production companies will also believe that to be the case.
…This is a very successful growth area for New Zealand and to have the film industry destroyed on the back of the actions of the unions is, I think, reprehensible.”

The PM said he believed Warner Brothers’ main concern was industrial uncertainty, and not New Zealand’s 15% tax incentive.
England, Ireland, and Eastern European countries are reportedly very interested in attracting the $500 million productions.

Peter Jackson will direct Hobbit films

Mike Fleming of Deadline New York reports that, despite initial denials, Peter Jackson will in fact direct the two films based on THE HOBBIT, J.R.R. Tolkien’s predecessor to THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Every since Guillermo Del Toro left the director’s chair, speculation among the fan community – and Hollywood in general – has been rife with rumored replacements, including Sam Raimi, David Yates, and Neil Blomkamp (whose DISTRICT 9 Jackson produced).
Jackson was not initially scheduled to direct. He was perhaps burnt out after the years spent working on the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy; there was also bad blood between him and New Line exec Robert Shaye, over accounting of the profits of those blockbuster hits. Del Toro was brought on but recently bowed out when the financial problems of MGM seemed likely to delay the start date. Fans hoped that Jackson would take over, but that initially did not seem a likely possibility.
In his article, Fleming points out that, although several directors angled for the job, no offers were made. Fleming theorizes this indicates that Jackson was hoping to take the gig all along but first had to extricate himself from other commitments. Fleming’s article quotes no one directly, citing only “trusted sources.”
Needless to say, the fan community is ecstatic. I’m not so sure. Jackson’s Tolkien trilogy started off strong with LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, but it wore down over the course of LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS and LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING. I lost count of the number of times our heroes battled impossible odds against certain death, only to emerge victorious, and the decision to film two HOBBIT prequels sounds less like an artistic decision than an accounting one, designed to milk every last penny from the franchise. There is a good movie to be made from Tolkien’s book, and Jackson may even be the one to do it; I just hope he’s had enough time away from Middle Earth to recharge his batteries.

CYBERSURFING: WANTED – 1 Director For “The Hobbit”, Will Pay Handsomely

guillermo del toroThe blogosphere, twitter feeds and various interwebs exploded this week with the news that Guillermo Del Toro, who was set to direct THE HOBBIT (the prequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS films), would be stepping down due to scheduling conflicts brought on by studio delays. Yet the madness didn’t stop there. As fans of any major franchise tend to do, speculation began to run rampant as to who would take his place. Lists and charts popped up here and there, ranking various directors by number, popularity, sexiness (ok, that one was made up…probably…).
However, while lists can be a fun distraction for film fans, for others they tend to be a deceptive beast. They are made to start conversation and compare ideas but end up creating a “false hope” in some fans and, in the end, whatever director is chosen will ultimately fall short of the expectations of those die-hard few who were 100% sure that would get the job. It is fun to speculate and wish, just as long its understood that these lists are exactly that…wish lists.
Here are a few pointers on surviving the speculation madness:
• While Del Toro is an excellent director and a great choice, it is not a written rule that to direct a good movie about hobbits, one needs to look like them.
“Peter Jackson is the PERFECT choice to direct this movie!” – Well, ok…duh. However, the man has said many times he doesn’t want to. Anyone who spends a decade making what truly amounts to a 9-hour smash hit deserves a LONG vacation. If he decides to, he will. Until then, keep your pants on…someone good will be found.
• Most lists feature big-name directors in the top spots, those who have a track record of making epic movies. Fans tend to think that only the current best in the business directors should be able to get their hands on THE HOBBIT. Should I remind people that, prior to the release of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, Peter Jackson was relegated to cult-status. Sure, he had paid his dues and had an ever-increasing list of successes, but the number of naysayers prior to the 1st film’s release was too many to count. The director may well be an unknown, but this is no reason to fret – Neil Blomkamp was a virtual unknown until the Jackson-produced DISTICT 9 hit theaters.
• Finally, to take a line from THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE: Don’t Panic. Though the delay in production is disappointing, this movie WILL be made. You don’t shelve a film with a built-in fan base somewhere in the hundreds of millions.
Links to various lists can be found below. Read them and enjoy. Just don’t be surprised if most of those wishes don’t come true!
Cinemablend: http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Who-Will-Direct-The-Hobbit-Our-Readers-Advise-Peter-Jackson-18796.html
Cinematical: http://www.cinematical.com/2010/05/31/who-should-direct-the-hobbit
Television Without Pity: http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/mwop/moviefile/2010/06/non-geek-directors-who-should.php
Io9: http://io9.com/5552022/who-should-direct-the-hobbit

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Guillermo Del Toro departs Hobbit over delays due to MGM's financial crisis

Guillermo Del ToroMy friends over at The One Ring Net posted this shocking news at their site today:

Guillermo Del Toro announced today that he is no longer directing the two movies based on J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, but will continue to co-write the screenplays. Out of respect to the legions of loyal Tolkien fans, both Guillermo and Peter Jackson wanted to break the news to The One Ring first. They are both committed to protecting The Hobbit and will do everything in their power to ensure the films are everything that the fans want them to be.
“In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming “The Hobbit,” I am faced with the hardest decision of my life”, says Guillermo. “After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures. I remain grateful to Peter, Fran and Philippa Boyens, New Line and Warner Brothers and to all my crew in New Zealand. I’ve been privileged to work in one of the greatest countries on earth with some of the best people ever in our craft and my life will be forever changed. The blessings have been plenty, but the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project. Both as a co-writer and as a director, I wlsh the production nothing but the very best of luck and I will be first in line to see the finished product. I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director”.
“We feel very sad to see Guillermo leave the Hobbit, but he has kept us fully in the loop and we understand how the protracted development time on these two films, due to reasons beyond anyone’s control – has compromised his commitment to other long term projects”, says Executive Producer Peter Jackson. “The bottom line is that Guillermo just didn’t feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years. Guillermo is one of the most remarkable creative spirits I’ve ever encountered and it has been a complete joy working with him. Guillermo’s strong vision is engrained into the scripts and designs of these two films, which are extremely fortunate to be blessed with his creative DNA”.
“Guillermo is co-writing the Hobbit screenplays with Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and myself, and happily our writing partnership will continue for several more months, until the scripts are fine tuned and polished” says Jackson. “New Line and Warner Bros will sit down with us this week, to ensure a smooth and uneventful transition, as we secure a new director for the Hobbit. We do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work”.
The Hobbit is planned as two motion pictures, co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM. They are scheduled for release in Dec 2012 and Dec 2013.

The Hobbit Coming in 2013?

Gandalf The Grey in the Lord of The Rings
Gandalf The Grey in the Lord of The Rings

Following Peter Jackon’s previous recap on highly anticipated fantasy prequel, THE HOBBIT, comes a new press release from IMAX.com which states the film is due for release in 2013. A lot could happen between now and then but it’s a good signal that the troubled production is finally getting closer to our screens.

THE HOBBIT, an two-part adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s tale which leads up to the events depicted in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, still doesn’t have a greenlight due to the ongoing financial issues faced by MGM. However, since this press release is as official as they come it seems as if Warner Bros. are confident THE HOBBIT will overcome these problems as it states a December 2013 release date projected for the film.
The press release also mentions other big movies, with release dates for Zack Snyder’s (WATCHMEN, 300) LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE (September this year) and the two final HARRY POTTER films (November this year and July next year respectively). Additionally BATMAN 3 and the new SUPERMAN also get a mention, but have no release dates attached.
This is good news for Tolkien fans around the globe but shouldn’t be read as the gospel; there’s still no greenlight for the project and there’s a lot of time between now 2013 in which for things to go wrong. Fingers crossed people…

The Hobbit Scripts Finished

Director Peter Jackson
Director Peter Jackson

Moviefone have been talking with Peter Jackson (THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THE LOVELY BONES), who is producing the two HOBBIT movies, and he’s cleared up a lot of the rumours surrounding the delay in production. Jackson says that scripts for both parts of THE HOBBIT have now been handed to the studio and that he believes shooting will start at the end of the year.

Jackson states that,

“We’ve just delivered the script. Literally last week, we delivered the second of the two screenplays — the first draft. So the studio’s got both scripts now, which is a milestone; and if anything was holding it up, it was us doing the screenplays, because we’d just been writing as fast as we can, but it took us this long to get them finished…And we’re now in the process of budgeting the films, and then hopefully we’ll get to a budget the studio are happy with, and they’ll greenlight the movies and we’ll announce the shooting dates. I’d be pretty optimistic that we’ll be shooting before the end of the year. I would imagine October, November, we’d be shooting by”.

He goes on to add,

“Well, it’s not really been delayed, because we’ve never announced the date,” Jackson told the site. “I mean it’s sort of interesting because the studio [MGM] has never greenlit The Hobbit, so therefore The Hobbit has never been officially announced as a ‘go’ project, nor have we ever announced a date…But I would imagine that if we get a green light within the next month or two, we would be hopefully making some casting announcements by, I guess, the middle of the year”.

So it seems, unsurprisingly given the LOTR films’ popularity,  that the fans and media have jumped the gun somewhat on this one. However everything Jackson says here is extremely encouraging and it’s good to hear news straight from the horses mouth for once. Here’s hoping that MGM’s financial troubles won’t get in the way of THE HOBBIT’s green light and Jackson’s projected shooting date will go ahead as planned.

The Hobbit Has Been Delayed Yet Again

click to purchase
click to purchase

Yes, it’s a sad day for Tolkien lovers everywhere as according to a variety of sources the eagerly awaited film adaptation of THE HOBBIT has been delayed further still. Over at The Playlist they’ve compiled various pieces of information suggesting the projected 2011 release date for the first half of the film (THE HOBBIT is being split into two films, just like HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HOLLOWS) won’t be happening.
First off, Andy Serkis was queried by Digital Spy as to whether the films will start shooting soon. He had this to say,

It is, apparently! At some point towards the end of this year, I expect it’ll start kicking off.

Additionally, and contrary to it’s earlier suggestion that THE HOBBIT would start shooting in July, Sir Ian McKellen’s website now states that it’ll start shooting, “at a time to be announced”. If this were not enough, Tolkien fansite The One Ring are reporting troubling financial struggles within the studio behind the films, MGM, which are causing a delay in production.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy was a masterful piece of storytelling from director Peter Jackson (THE LOVELY BONES, THE FRIGHTENERS) and so a prequel overseen by the same visionary director, not to mention several returning cast members, is a very exciting prospect. Guillermo del Toro (PAN’S LABYRINTH, HELLBOY) is set to direct the two films and has more than enough experience to handle to the job so it’s such a shame to see this project be delayed further than it already has been (THE HOBBIT was originally meant to be on screens this year).

McKellen says Hobbit to start filming in July

Recycling information that actor Ian McKellen (Gandalf in LORD OF THE RINGS) posted on his website, the Bangkok Post reports that THE HOBBIT will begin shooting inNew Zealand this July.

“Casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started,” said the British actor, who will again play the wizard Gandalf.”The script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth.”

Two prequels are planned, based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s nove The Hobbit. Director Guillermo Del Toro (PAN’S LABYRINTH) will direct both simulataneously.