"The Hobbit" is finally happening! - To go into production at MGM

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Postby rolotomasi99 » Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:21 pm

del torro is a good pick, but why the hell are they making two movies? :angry:

the lord of the rings trilogy made sense since that is how the story was written (though there are differences between the books and the movies).

this, however, just sounds like the same greedy bullshit that gave us two MATRIX and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels, and two KILL BILL films. the studios just want twice as much money, and the directors are so fucking full of themselves they do not realize how two movies dilute the power of the story.

this is the same thing that is pissing me off about steven soderbergh and his two che guevara films he is making. what an asshole! can you imagine if ang lee decided he could not possibly tell BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN in just a single two hour film, but decided to split up the story into separate films that culminate in four hours?

i have read "the hobbit," and there is certainly not four (or six!) hours worth of story that absolutely must be filmed.
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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:43 pm

anonymous wrote:IMO, Guillermo Del Toro is more suited for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than The Hobbit.

Who would you suggest direct it? (serious question)

Tim Burton? (jovial suggestion)

Johnny Depp as Bilbo Baggins? (ludicrous thought)

Helena Bonham Carter as Gandalf? (beyond silly)

I'm just playing with you, Anonymous. I know you wouldn't want Tim Burton directing it.
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Postby Zahveed » Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:59 pm

anonymous wrote:IMO, Guillermo Del Toro is more suited for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than The Hobbit.

I thought he was in talks for that too. Anyways, Del Toro is the perfect candidate among his peers to direct The Hobbit.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:56 pm

IMO, Guillermo Del Toro is more suited for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than The Hobbit.

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Postby MovieWes » Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:30 pm

I'm glad to hear that Guillermo Del Toro is directing (or is in talks anyway). He's definately the kind of visionary director who could bring the same kind of prestige to The Hobbit and its sequel that Peter Jackson brought to the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien's works are still in good hands.
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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:51 am

Ok. I can get behind Del Toro as director. I'm just thankful it's not some poor choice like Sam Raimi or some hack like Andrew Adamson, Joel Schumacher or Brett Ratner.
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Postby Zahveed » Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:31 am

Del Toro in Talks to Direct Hobbit Films
Source: The Hollywood Reporter January 28, 2008


Guillermo del Toro is in talks to direct back-to-back installments of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, which is being co-financed by New Line and MGM, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Few filmmakers have the cachet that del Toro has, as well as a deep love for the source material, an assured grasp of fantasy filmmaking and an understanding and command of geek culture as well as its respect. Del Toro has built that goodwill through such films as the Oscar-nominated Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Blade 2 (which was made by New Line) and The Devil's Backbone.

Because of other commitments that included The Lovely Bones and Tintin, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy director Peter Jackson could not take on writing and directing roles, opting instead to become an executive producer with approval over creative elements of the pair of films.

Because of the strike, no writer has been hired to adapt Tolkien's children's classic, though that process will be fast-tracked once it's resolved. Del Toro and Jackson will oversee the two films' writing.

Principal photography for the films, which will be shot simultaneously, is tentatively set for 2009. The production budget is estimated at $150 million per film. The release of the first film is slated for 2010 and the second in 2011.

The Hobbit is centered on Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf who go on a quest to find the treasure of a dragon named Smaug. Tolkien went on to write "The Lord of the Rings" 17 years later.
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Postby MovieWes » Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:39 pm

I wouldn't mind if Fran Walsh directed The Hobbit -- after all, she directed the prologue for The Return of the King and is in tune with the tone and style of the films. If Peter Jackson doesn't direct, New Line and MGM would be wise to try to recruit her.



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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Jan 07, 2008 7:40 am

Peter Jackson producing and not directing is not the same thing. Sam Raimi directing the film would be a travesty. I wouldn't mind Del Toro or Cuaron as much, but Peter better get his head out of his ass and realize this thing is far more important than fucking Tintin.
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Postby MovieWes » Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:24 am

Peter Jackson to Produce The Hobbit and Sequel!

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson; Harry Sloan, Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM); Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs of New Line Cinema have jointly announced today that they have entered into the following series of agreements:

* MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute two films, The Hobbit and a sequel to The Hobbit. New Line will distribute in North America and MGM will distribute internationally.

* Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as Executive Producers of two films based on The Hobbit. New Line will manage the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.

* Peter Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation relating to the "Lord of the Rings" (LOTR) Trilogy.

Said Peter Jackson, "I'm very pleased that we've been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line. 'The Lord of the Rings' is a legacy we proudly share with Bob and Michael, and together, we share that legacy with millions of loyal fans all over the world. We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth. I also want to thank Harry Sloan and our new friends at MGM for helping us find the common ground necessary to continue that journey."

"Peter Jackson has proven himself as the filmmaker who can bring the extraordinary imagination of Tolkien to life and we full heartedly agree with the fans worldwide who know he should be making 'The Hobbit,'" said Sloan, MGM's Chairman and CEO. "Now that we are all in agreement on 'The Hobbit,' we can focus on assembling the production team that will capture this phenomenal tale on film."

Bob Shaye, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO comments, "We are very pleased we have been able to resolve our differences, and that Peter and Fran will be actively and creatively involved with 'The Hobbit' movies. We know they will bring the same passion, care and talent to these films that they so ably accomplished with 'The Lord of the Rings' Trilogy."

"Peter is a visionary filmmaker, and he broke new ground with 'The Lord of the Rings,'" notes Michael Lynne, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO. "We're delighted he's back for 'The Hobbit' films and that the Tolkien saga will continue with his imprint. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Harry Sloan, who has been instrumental in helping us reach our new accord."

The two "Hobbit" films – The Hobbit and its sequel – are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of The Hobbit release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.

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 eleven categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture – the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The Trilogy's production was also unprecedented at the time.

While MGM and New Line want to keep Jackson's involvement in the film as broad as possible, hinting that he may take up both writing and directing responsibilities, Jackson's manager Ken Kamins told Hollywood Insider that Jackson won't be directing the films. "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."

So who will direct? 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."

The creative powers are expected to start planning the films in early 2008.




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Postby MovieWes » Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:23 pm

'The Hobbit': Peace in Middle-Earth?

Fans have long dreamed ''Lord of the Rings'' director Peter Jackson would tackle J.R.R. Tolkien's ''The Hobbit,'' but a nasty legal battle with New Line Cinema has made it impossible. Now, at last, a cease-fire may be at hand

By Benjamin Svetkey

Last month, in the academic journal Science, paleontologists presented new evidence that they had discovered an overlooked relative of prehistoric man. Officially, they've labeled the species Homo floresiensis — unofficially, they're calling them ''hobbits'' — but by any other name what they've found are the 18,000-year-old fossilized remains of a three-foot-tall hominid with a recessed chin and a brain the size of a Wiffle ball.

As it happens, they're digging for hobbits in Hollywood, too. The kind with a thing for finger bling and a knack for raking in billions at the box office. Up until a few weeks ago, it was looking as if this breed might be extinct as well, wiped out by dark lords more powerful than Sauron himself — entertainment lawyers. But now the legal battle that's kept The Lord of the Rings' prequel, The Hobbit, hung up for years — a bitter feud between Rings director Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema co-chairman Robert Shaye — may finally be nearing resolution. For once, there's reason to be cautiously optimistic. At this writing, no agreements have been announced and details of the negotiations are sketchy (neither New Line nor Jackson's camp would comment to EW on any aspect of this story), but sources close to the talks tell us that they're detecting a lot less frost in the air, and that a deal may be reached that could help usher J.R.R. Tolkien's maiden Middle-earth masterpiece to screens before the end of the decade. ''There has been a détente,'' says one insider. There is now the beginning of a discourse between Peter Jackson and New Line that's running parallel to the litigation proceedings.''

Okay, so it's not the sort of declaration of peace that sets church bells clanging. But it is a vast improvement from just 10 months ago, when Shaye and Jackson duked it out in the press and the studio co-chief angrily told a reporter that the director was too arrogant for his tastes, adding ''I don't want to work with that guy anymore.'' Besides, in Hollywood, any movement on this long-stalled project is major news. It was The Hobbit, after all, that first introduced the world to the lovely and terrifying universe of Middle-earth. The novel is set about 60 years before Lord of the Rings, and for many readers who dove into Tolkien's work as kids, it retains a warmer glow in memory than the daunting and sometimes slow-moving trilogy. Its hero is one Bilbo Baggins, an unassuming homebody hobbit who gets dragooned by one wizard and 13 dwarves into an adventure during which he relieves a dragon named Smaug of an ill-gotten treasure and the wicked Gollum of a certain all-powerful ring. Only a few LOTR cast members make return appearances in this earlier tale. But the story has precisely the same themes — of loyalty and unexpected bravery — that made the Rings series huge. And by huge we mean gargantuan, with each film earning about a billion dollars worldwide between 2001 and 2003, along with 17 Oscars, including ones for Best Director and Best Picture. In Hollywood, in other words, The Hobbit is that rarest of magical creatures — a sure thing.

And that's what makes this lawsuit mess so mystifying. What disagreement over Lord of the Rings could possibly be so important, so personal, that both sides would blow a potential billion dollars in revenue over it?

The irony is that once upon a time, Peter Jackson and Bob Shaye gave each other the greatest gifts of their careers. In 1998, Jackson's bid to make LOTR as three separate films — as opposed to two, or even one — had been rejected by virtually every studio in Hollywood. Shaye and New Line were his last hope, a fact the director camouflaged by calling a couple of times to reschedule the appointment with New Line because of his supposedly hectic itinerary. Jackson and Shaye made for an odd pair: a shy Kiwi perennially in short pants and bare feet, and one of the last real Hollywood mavericks, who was so fond of his sunglasses that Jack Nicholson once took to calling him ''Bobby Shades.'' What Jackson and Shaye did have in common was a kind of fearlessness and an absolute indifference to what other people thought was financial or creative suicide. Shaye greenlit Jackson's dream of a trio of $100 million fantasy films about elves and dwarves. (Not even Harvey Weinstein had the stomach for that; he told Jackson he'd sign on for only two. Because he was an executive producer, he wound up with a cut of the box office anyway.) And Jackson gave Shaye a $3 billion franchise and a new image for his company. New Line, which Shaye launched 40 years ago by discovering such camp classics as Reefer Madness and marketing them out of his apartment, is no longer best known for A Nightmare on Elm Street or Austin Powers.

There's invariably tension between studios and filmmakers during production. New Line learned quickly that despite being grateful for the job, the director and his partner, Fran Walsh, were not people to be shoved around. So there were scuffles and hurt feelings of varying magnitudes on both sides, all of which was compounded by the industry perception that Shaye had literally bet his studio on The Lord of the Rings. The first public indication that all was not well came around 2003. The second LOTR installment, The Two Towers, had earned its billion dollars, and it began to dawn on cast members that they weren't exactly sharing in the wealth. (Two sources close to the production recall a principal player receiving a merchandising residual check for 45 cents.) Eventually, after the bigger-name actors hinted they'd be too busy to do further publicity for the films, New Line coughed up extra bonuses. (The second-tier performers have since filed a lawsuit alleging that the studio withheld merchandising revenues.) Then came rumblings from producer Saul Zaentz. He had bought the film rights to the LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit from United Artists back in 1976 — UA partner MGM retains distribution rights to The Hobbit — and in 2004, Zaentz filed a lawsuit too, claiming that New Line wasn't paying all it owed him in royalties. His case was settled a year later for an undisclosed sum, but by then Jackson was elbows deep in his own audit of New Line's financial records.

Nobody enjoys getting audited, but it's a fact of life in Hollywood. Shaye, however, seemed to have taken Jackson's audit personally. ''It rankled him,'' notes one observer. ''Like, 'I gave this guy his shot — where does he get off?''' Shaye had apparently forgotten that Jackson was not just some cuddly Kiwi. When New Line began planning to sell the LOTR props and costumes at auction, Jackson intervened and said that he'd like to have them, both for sentimental reasons and for a museum he hoped to set up one day. The studio balked. Jackson then pointed out that he had never signed a contract for the extended Return of the King DVD. He informed New Line that he'd be happy to accept the costumes and props as his fee — the suggestion being that he might not work on the DVD otherwise. Those extended cuts had become far richer revenue streams than anyone could have predicted. Jackson got his props. The relationship between the filmmakers and the studio at that point was said to fall somewhere between hellish and nonexistent.

In November of 2003, Jackson and Walsh sat in their private theater in New Zealand, making last-minute tweaks to the trilogy's final film, The Return of the King. ''The ghosts are looking good, but to my eye the heroes are a little big,'' Jackson said of a sequence known as the Paths of the Dead. He drew circles on the screen with a laser pointer, then moved on to the close of the movie where Sam Gamgee returns home and embraces his family. The shot needed the slightest tweak. Jackson asked his special-effects team how long it would take. Ten days, he was told. ''No, no, no, no,'' he responded. ''Ten days would cause cardiac arrest in L.A.'' Walsh smiled. ''That's not such a bad thing,'' she said. As tittering spread throughout the theater, Jackson turned around: ''Show of hands, everybody?''

If the audit irked Shaye, the worst was still to come. In February 2005, Jackson filed his suit against New Line, claiming the studio had been dragging its feet providing documents to his auditors. The lawsuit asks for no specific dollar amount in damages, but insists that Jackson be allowed to examine the studio's books, looking into matters such as how New Line, a division of Time Warner, sold the ancillary rights to his films. (Entertainment Weekly is also owned by Time Warner.) In several instances, New Line struck deals with companies within the Time Warner family, such as Warner Bros. Records and the TBS cable network. If Jackson can show that New Line could have signed more profitable deals with outside companies, he might be able to demand some significant lost revenue.

In any case, once the lawsuit was filed, The Hobbit was roadkill. New Line did approach Jackson about making the movie at least once, in the fall of 2006, promising to settle the dispute (and pay him an appropriate amount) if he agreed to make the film. No dice. Jackson continued to insist a settlement had to come first. He'd already gone on to make King Kong. For Universal.

The low point came last November, when Shaye actually ''fired'' Jackson from The Hobbit. Jackson took the fight directly to the people. ''[We were told] that New Line would no longer be requiring our services on The Hobbit,'' Jackson wrote in a memo posted on the fansite TheOneRing.net. ''This was a courtesy call to let us know that the studio was now actively looking to hire another filmmaker.'' Shaye erupted. In January 2007, he blasted Jackson in a now-famous public tirade. ''I don't care about Peter Jackson anymore,'' he railed to the Sci Fi Wire website. ''He thinks that we owe him something after we've paid him over a quarter of a billion dollars!''

Shaye didn't appear to be bluffing. New Line began dangling The Hobbit in front of other directors. Like Sam Raimi. (''Peter Jackson might be the best filmmaker on the planet right now,'' the Spider-Man director told EW in March, but ''if Peter didn't want to do it...'') Not that anyone thought it was the greatest idea. ''Frankly, anybody else would be a secondary choice,'' says one high-profile movie executive. ''It won't be the movie people want.'' It certainly wouldn't be what Ian McKellen wanted; the actor, who played Gandalf in the trilogy, has been waging a one-wizard campaign to get Jackson back behind the camera, asking both sides to settle their differences. ''I should have relished revisiting Middle-earth with Peter,'' he wrote on his website. Viggo Mortensen's character, Aragorn, doesn't figure in The Hobbit's plotline, but even he can't imagine the film being made without Jackson. ''He's the ideal candidate,'' Mortensen tells EW. ''In their heart of hearts, New Line [knows] he's ideal.'' Many fans would argue that Jackson isn't merely ideal for The Hobbit, but indispensable. His vision is now synonymous with Tolkien's — as is the work of his F/X houses, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital. ''Would fans go see the movie if someone else directed it?'' asks the editor-in-chief of TheOneRing.net, Michael Regina. ''Maybe 90 percent would, but they'd be upset about it. It would break their hearts.''

It wouldn't be the sunniest scenario for Bob Shaye and New Line, either. In fact, time may be running out to launch the movie. On some not-too-distant date, the rights to The Hobbit will revert back to Zaentz. Most insiders guess it's 2010. To make the movie then, New Line would have to renegotiate — assuming Zaentz would want to do business with them again — on much more expensive terms and with plenty of competition from other studios. And there may be another deadline: Shaye and studio co-chair Michael Lynne reportedly have only until late 2008, when their contracts with New Line are said to expire. Not much time to add one last Tolkien triumph to their legacy.

But the real pressure on New Line right now is coming from the courts. Last month the company was fined $125,000 for failing to provide requested accounting documents. Even in the weeks before that ruling, there were signs that New Line's hard line was beginning to buckle. ''Notwithstanding our personal quarrels,'' Shaye told the L.A. Times this August, ''I really respect and admire Peter and would love for him to be creatively involved in some way in The Hobbit.''

Finally, an olive branch.

Of course, even if the lawsuit is settled tomorrow, there are still a few details to iron out before The Hobbit could get made. Like a script, for instance, which nobody has actually written. In the past, Jackson has suggested that he would make two films, with the second one filling in the story arc between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of Rings. Although Tolkien never wrote a novel bridging the eras, he did scatter clues in shorter pieces and epilogues that could form the basis of a screenplay. This is not unprecedented. Jackson, Walsh, and screenwriting partner Philippa Boyens enhanced the Rings love story between Mortensen's and Liv Tyler's characters with material from Tolkien's extensive appendixes.

Still, it's hard to imagine Jackson having time to direct one Hobbit movie, let alone two. He will soon begin shooting his adaptation of the best-selling novel The Lovely Bones in Pennsylvania. And after that, he's scheduled to make Tintin with Steven Spielberg. There's speculation that New Line might offer him a deal to executive-produce The Hobbit, letting him pick a proxy director and oversee the production. That might be enough to keep fans' hearts from breaking, but would it be enough for Jackson? Amazingly, after all he's been through — eight years making Rings and several more in court fighting over it — the Shire still holds him in its spell. In fact, Jackson may turn out to be the only person who never once lost hope in the movie. Even in 2003, when his relationship with New Line was quite bleak, Jackson was still giving editions of The Hobbit as gifts. ''Great book,'' he wrote in one copy. ''Wonder when the movie's coming out??''
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Postby jack » Sat May 12, 2007 8:02 pm

I remember reading that Saul Zeantz, who will produce the film, will not let it happen without the involvment of Peter Jackson... At the end of the day, Zeantz holds the rights to the project, so with hope Jackson will film this with hope masterpeice...

New LIne may simply be trying to save face...

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Postby OscarGuy » Sat May 12, 2007 6:06 pm

At least Joel Schumacher wasn't on the list.

It might be interesting to see Bill Condon tackle the film as he could bring depth to the film that none of the other names on the list could even dream of doing. Even Sam Raimi and Peter Weir would be franchise destroyers.

I don't understand why he thinks Silberling's a good choice. Lemony Snicket so completely destroyed the spirit of the books that I can't imagine a worse choice for directing The Hobbit.

He's right. Jackson is the only one I would trust with this project.
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Postby Damien » Sat May 12, 2007 5:54 pm

From Cinema Blend:

Michael Bay To Direct The Hobbit?
By Josh Tyler: 2007-05-12

It was only earlier this week that we heard Master and Commander director Peter Weir might be in the running with Sam Raimi to direct New Line’s Peter Jacksonless version of “The Hobbit”. But it seems Weir is just one of a big list of names New Line has going, a list full of directors they’re planning on begging to steal the reigns of their mega-franchise away from Jackson.

AICN has the scoop on the other names New Line is considering… and they’re all considerably less good than Raimi and Weir. If you’re a Tolkien fan, this list may give you nightmares. Consider reading no further.

Still with me? Then here are the directors rumored to be on New Line Cinema’s short list to helm The Hobbit: Stephen Sommers, Michael Bay, Brad Silberling, Bill Condon.

I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that Paul W.S. Anderson isn’t on it. Every one of those names is a potentially horrible choice, all for completely different reasons. Bill Condon is a GREAT director but I just can’t imagine him directing a big-budget fantasy movie. Stephen Sommers is a decent action director, but shouldn’t be trusted with anything more complicated than a Mummy movie. Michael Bay is the mother fucking anti-christ and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this movie. He is the franchise destroyer, the dream killer, and his version of The Hobbit would probably involve finding some way to get Bilbo in the cockpit of a fighter jet to blow up Iraqi terrorist cells.

Actually the only name on that list that doesn’t give me a case of the cold chills is Brad Silberling, who to most of you is almost a total unknown. He most recently directed Lemony Snicket, which shows he has some experience in the fantasy genre and knows a thing or two about big budget visual flair. He’s worked in TV a lot, but he also directed Casper. He wouldn’t be my first choice, but of the Tolkien books The Hobbit is definitely the most family friendly and if they choose to go that route he might be able to handle it without completely destroying the material.

Let’s face it though. There’s only one man who should be directing this movie, and his name is Peter Jackson. If New Line Cinema hires Michael Bay, they’d better be prepared for a complete boycott of every movie the studio makes for the next two decades by Tolkien fans. Seriously, it’s one thing to let the guy ruin Transformers, but it’s quite another to let him take a big dump all over Lord of the Rings. If there was any doubt before that the execs and New Line had totally lost their mind, the inclusion of Michael Bay on this list should erase it. Let’s hope this rumor doesn’t pan out.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby OscarGuy » Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:35 am

The Hobbit furor continues. See the article below. I, for one, will not purchase a ticket to any Hobbit film that does not have Jackson attached. To me, the vision of the series would be lost.

Shaye denies Jackson 'Hobbit' gig
New Line topper says director not welcome
By NICOLE LAPORTE, DAVE MCNARY

Peter Jackson
Jackson

Bob Shaye
Shaye
The feud over "The Hobbit" is getting hotter and meaner.

In the most recent sturm und drang over J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, long-discussed as a project for "Lord of the Rings" helmer Peter Jackson, New Line co-chairman Bob Shaye told Sci Fi Wire that Jackson would never direct "The Hobbit" as long as Shaye is running New Line.

New Line, which released the "LOTR" trilogy, is in a public feud and lawsuit with Jackson over money the helmer says is owed him from the "Rings" pics. Trilogy grossed more than $3 billion worldwide in ticket sales alone.

"It will never happen during my watch," Shaye said of Jackson directing "The Hobbit" along with an "LOTR" prequel. New Line and MGM own the rights to both films.

Shaye's words are a more explicit snub to Jackson than occurred last November, when Jackson posted a letter to his fans on the "LOTR" fan site Theonering.net saying that New Line had alerted him that they were proceeding to make "The Hobbit" without him.

The severing of ties was prompted by Jackson's declared refusal to make a movie with New Line until his ongoing lawsuit is settled. (Suit was filed in August 2005 after accounting issues were raised in a partial audit of the first "LOTR" film.) New Line told Jackson that because the studio's option to the property, obtained from Saul Zaentz, was set to expire, New Line would proceed sans Jackson.

People close to the situation say the lawsuit is nowhere near being settled.

Shaye's attack was more acerbic, and definitive, than simply walking away from the table.

Jackson got "a quarter of a billion dollars paid to him so far, justifiably, according to contract, completely right, and this guy ... turns around without wanting to have a discussion with us and sues us and refused to discuss it unless we just give in to his plan," Shaye said. "I don't want to work with that guy anymore. Why would I? So the answer is, he will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I'm still working at the company."

Shaye also went on to say that he was "offended" that Jackson, as well as several "LOTR" thesps ("because, I'm guessing, of Peter's complaint") would not participate in a video celebrating New Line's 40th anniversary.

On Wednesday, Jackson issued a statement in response to Shaye's outburst, saying, "It is regrettable that Bob has chosen to make (the argument) personal. I have always had the highest respect and affection for Bob and other senior management at New Line and continue to do so."

Jackson addressed the suit by saying: "Contrary to recent comments made by Bob Shaye, we attempted to discuss the issues raised by the 'Fellowship' audit with New Line for over a year, but the studio was and continues to be completely uncooperative. This has compelled us to file a lawsuit to pursue our contractual rights under the law. Nobody likes legal action, but the studio left us with no alternative."

As for the anniversary video, Jackson said, "In light of these circumstances, I didn't think it was appropriate for me to be involved in (the video). I have never discussed this video with any of the cast of the 'LOTR.' The issues that Bob Shaye has with the cast pre-date this lawsuit by many years."

A source close to Jackson called Shaye's remarks "a strategy to try and create favor (for New Line) by saying how much money Peter made. The issue isn't what Peter made, it's why Bob and Mike (Lynne, co-chairman of New Line) don't want to talk about what they made. What is it that they don't want us to see?"

Shaye and Lynne were exec producers on the "LOTR" films.

As with earlier exchanges in this feud, Shaye's remarks were vented via the Internet, where Jackson fans avidly lurk. (Jackson's statement was released to Daily Variety.) Indeed, all parties seem intent on generating buzz, and perhaps action, by addressing the issue publicly.

Last October, Rick Sands, chief operating officer of MGM, which owns the distribution rights to the "Hobbit," posted a letter on Theonering.net in response to a petition signed by 50,000 fans demanding that Jackson be allowed to direct "Hobbit."

Sands wrote: "MGM would be thrilled to collaborate with the Academy-Award winning director on this MGM/New Line Cinema production."

New Line would not comment Wednesday about Jackson's latest statement.
Wesley Lovell

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin


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