After months of baseless speculation in both the fan and professional media, an official announcement from New Line Cinema confirms that Sir Peter Jackson will direct a two-part film adaptation of The Hobbit, to begin principal photography this February.
Jackson replaces Guillermo del Toro, who left the troubled production in June. The release dates are December 2012 and 2013.
From the press release:
The two films based on “The Hobbit” are now greenlit and will begin principal photography in February 2011, under the direction of Peter Jackson, it was jointly announced today by Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema[;] Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros. [;] and Steve Cooper, co-Chief Executive Officer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc…
…Jackson, who directed all three “Lord of the Rings” films, will helm the two films back-to-back, telling the story of “The Hobbit” in two parts. Jackson will utilize groundbreaking visual effects and his incomparable story-telling to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel to the big screen. Both Hobbit movies will be filmed in Digital 3-D, using the latest camera and stereo technology to create a high quality, comfortable viewing experience. Jackson also co-wrote the screenplays with Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.
“The Hobbit” is being co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production, Warner Bros Pictures handling domestic distribution and MGM distributing internationally. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing the films, with Phillipa Boyens as co-producer and Ken Kamins as executive producer.
The Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed LOTR trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box office. In 2003, “Return of the King” swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the 11 categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture – the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film.
The films may prove to be the most expensive ever filmed, due to the monetary claims of the various rights holders. The production still has to deal with a labor dispute in New Zealand, as well as the financial troubles of studio MGM. If the production cannot film in New Zealand, it may be moved to Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia or the Czech Republic; although New Zealand’s WETA is still expected to provide effects.
As far as casting, there has been no official word, although rumors that Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy actor Martin Freeman will star in the title role have proven impossible to kill.
For more info: The complete press release via TORn; “Latest decision about where the Hobbit will be filmed” via The Frodo Franchise.Tags: Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro, Ken Kamins, labor issues, Martin Freeman, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, The Hobbit (film), The Lord of the Rings (movie trilogy), Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros., Weta Workshop