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

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Postby MovieWes » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:08 pm

Here's an interesting article from the New York Times on The Hobbit controversy. Will the fans be able to win the battle for Peter Jackson? I guess we're just going to have to keep our fingers crossed.

Digital fans back Jackson as 'Hobbit' director

By Sharon Waxman / The New York Times Published: December 1, 2006

LOS ANGELES: When it comes to power games, some in Hollywood are beginning to learn a basic lesson of digital politics: The Internet plays rough.

Such is the case with a growing spat between New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson, the A-list director of the "Lord of the Rings" movies and a savvy player when it comes to the power of the Web. Last week Jackson posted a letter on a fan Web site, theonering.net, explaining that he had been dumped by New Line from "The Hobbit," a movie based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, and still in the planning stages.

"This outcome is not what we anticipated or wanted, but neither do we see any positive value in bitterness and rancor," Jackson wrote with his producing partner and wife, Fran Walsh. "We now have no choice but to let the idea of a film of 'The Hobbit' go and move forward with other projects.

But to legions of avid Jackson and Tolkien fans, the news was a bombshell that went whizzing through cyberspace.

"This is a big blow to the LOTR community, I feel like there has been a death in the family," wrote a Web master called Xoanon, referring to the "Lord of the Ring" trilogy by its initials. "Why couldn't New Line come to an agreement with PJ? Is there really a time option on the film rights for New Line? Who will they get to direct?"

Within hours thousands of other fans weighed in on lordotrings.com, onering.com and other sites, worrying about the future of the Tolkien enterprise and asking New Line, which has an option to produce the film until 2009, to back down. Theonering.net was among those calling for a boycott of any "Hobbit" film not made by Jackson.

"The fan community as a whole is up in arms about the way Peter Jackson has been treated," said Chris Pirrotta, a founder of theonering.net site, which has faithfully followed Jackson for years, even posting his video diary during the making of last year's "King Kong." "Fans are very distraught to see someone who's created something so wonderful being treated so poorly by the studio."

On the heels of the protest, reporters and entertainment bloggers called the studio to ask about the film's fate. In what was once an insular club of power brokers and back-stabbers, the voices of outsiders - dancing across the globe at the speed of a modem - have begun to penetrate.

New Line declined to comment on "The Hobbit," but said in a statement to The New York Times that the situation was complicated by the lawsuit of Jackson's company, Wingnut Films, against the studio over revenues from the "Lord of the Rings," which New Line produced.

"We are in litigation with Wingnut Films, and have been unsuccessful despite a formal mediation, as well as discussions with Wingnut directly to settle the matter; therefore, we cannot comment at this point," the studio said this week.

But anxiety continued to reverberate in cyberspace. Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in the Rings series, wrote on his Web site, mckellen.com: "I'm very sad as I should have relished revisiting middle Earth with Peter again as team-leader. It's hard to imagine any other director matching his achievement in Tolkien country."

And Saul Zaentz, the veteran producer who holds the underlying rights, was quoted on yet another Web site, this one in German, saying Jackson would indeed direct "The Hobbit," which still has no script, no budget, no cast and no production date.

In an interview from Italy, Zaentz said he was misquoted, but that Jackson should be the one to direct "The Hobbit." "We would like to see it done, of course with Peter Jackson," he said. "He's a good film director. He's the right guy. He knows it too. But it's a hard thing to do, when you feel you didn't get the money you were supposed to get."

The contretemps over "The Hobbit," those involved say, is really about the lawsuit over revenues from the "Lord of the Rings" series, which has taken in a staggering $2.9 billion in box office receipts alone.

In February 2005 Jackson sued New Line, saying he was owed money from the trilogy. Jackson has said he sued over profits from "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," after he was unable to get New Line to submit to an independent audit of its books. The lawsuit, which was unsuccessfully mediated, still has no court date, and so far no audit has taken place. New Line executives have complained that Jackson has become vastly wealthy from the Tolkien trilogy and is unjustifiably portraying himself as a victim.

In his letter Jackson said New Line was holding the new movie hostage to his lawsuit, saying that Michael Lynne, the New Line co-president, told Jackson's manager, Ken Kamins, "that the way to settle the lawsuit was to get a commitment from us to make the Hobbit because 'that's how these things are done.'"

Jackson added: "Michael Lynne said we would stand to make much more money if we tied the lawsuit and the movie deal together and this may well be true, but it's still the worst reason in the world to agree to make a film."

Neither Jackson nor the studio would comment publicly on the lawsuit.

The final straw in continuing tensions between the two sides came earlier this month, when Jackson declined to contribute a video salute to New Line for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of its founding, planned for next year, according to two people familiar with the matter. Days later a New Line executive called Kamins to say that the studio would be seeking another director for "The Hobbit."

So while New Line accused Jackson of trying to negotiate the lawsuit through the Internet, Jackson's camp accused the studio of brinksmanship in a fit of pique.

It was left to another studio entirely, MGM, which owns the distribution rights to "The Hobbit," to step in and calm the raging waters - and the Web sites.

"We expect to partner with New Line in financing 'The Hobbit,'" a spokesman for MGM said. "We support Peter Jackson as a filmmaker, and believe that when the dust settles, he'll be making the movie. We can't imagine any other result."
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:39 pm

Franz Ferdinand wrote:'Rings' director taken off 'Hobbit' film
POSTED: 8:38 a.m. EST, November 21, 2006

Doesn't look like he was ever 'on' in the first place.
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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:08 pm

If they don't let Jackson direct, we lose the ultimate Gandalf.

I also think Jackson is far better suited to the film than Raimi whose only a passable director. He wouldn't be able to handle a project like The Hobbit without turning it into something fans will hate.
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Postby MovieWes » Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:08 pm

Peter Jackson may yet do 'The Hobbit'

Washington, Nov 26 : Saul Zaentz owner of Tolkien Enterprises and the producer of the 'Lord of the Rings' prequel, has now gone on record supporting Peter Jackson as the director of 'The Hobbit'.

In a recent interview Saul claimed that he is confident that Peter will ultimately return to the Middle Earth

"It will definitely be shot by Peter Jackson. The question is only when. He wants to shoot another movie first. Next year the Hobbit-rights will fall back to my company. I suppose that Peter will wait because he knows that he will make the best deal with us. And he is fed up with the studios: to get his profit share on the rings trilogy he had to sue New Line. With us in contrast he knows that he will be paid fairly and artistically supported without reservation," theonering.net quoted him as saying in an interview.

Earlier MGM studios, which shares the rights for the sequels with New Line said that it will not let go Peter Jackson so easily and will fight for him. Over 8000 fans of the trilogy have also signed an online petition on theonering.net demanding the return of Jackson for the movie.

Meanwhile, it was reported yesterday that Sam Raimi has reportedly entered talks with New Line to replace Jackson in the director's chair for the planned adaptations of 'The Hobbit'.

According to TheOneRing.net, the "Spider-Man" and "Evil Dead" filmmaker has a huge following among genre buffs, so the news may just cool a few maddened 'Lord of the Rings' fans down.
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)

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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:37 am

'Rings' director taken off 'Hobbit' film
POSTED: 8:38 a.m. EST, November 21, 2006

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- New Zealand director Peter Jackson, who scored worldwide success with his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, said Tuesday he will not be making the movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel "The Hobbit" or a planned prequel.

In a letter posted on a Lord of the Rings Web site, Theonering.com., Jackson and partner Fran Walsh said a top executive from Los Angeles-based New Line Cinema had called to tell them the studio was moving ahead with "The Hobbit" movie without Jackson.

"Last week, Mark Ordesky called Ken (Kamins, Jackson's manager) and told him that New Line would no longer be requiring our services on The Hobbit and the LOTR 'prequel,"' Jackson wrote.

"This was a courtesy call to let us know that the studio was now actively looking to hire another filmmaker for both projects," he added. New Line Cinema holds the rights to produce "The Hobbit," and Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer the rights to distribute it.

A spokesman from Wingnut Films, Jackson's production company in the New Zealand capital, confirmed to local media Wednesday that the letter was genuine. He spoke on his standard condition he not be named.

The announcement comes amid an ongoing dispute between Jackson's Wingnut Films and New Line Cinema over the amount Jackson was paid for "The Fellowship of the Ring," including DVD payments.

While Jackson has not said how much he believes he was underpaid, The New York Times last year quoted his lawyers as saying it was as much as US$100 million. He is suing New Line Cinema over the shortfall.

The Dominion Post newspaper in the New Zealand capital Wellington quoted Jackson as saying that because he and Walsh would not discuss the movies "until the lawsuit is resolved, the studio is going to have to hire another director."

"We are very sorry our involvement with 'The Hobbit' has ended this way," the pair added.

Plans for Jackson to make a US$128 million movie version of the sci-fi video game Halo were also scuppered this month after backers 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures pulled out.

Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy grossed nearly US$3 billion at box offices worldwide.

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Postby MovieWes » Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:44 pm

Breaking News: MGM to do 'The Hobbit'
Monday, 11 September 2006, 10:16 am

In a Variety article talking about MGM's move back into the tentpole business, the trade mentions a few highly-anticipated projects that are in the works:

'Over the next few years, MGM is planning to release half a dozen films, some in the $150 million to $200 million-plus range. Studio is ready to unveil such high-profile projects as "Terminator 4"; one or two installments of "The Hobbit," which Sloan hopes will be directed by Peter Jackson; and a sequel to "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Pierce Brosnan.

It has already announced a "Pink Panther" sequel and the next 007 pic "Bond 22," due out in November 2008. "Rocky Balboa" unspools in February.

The pics are all franchises that MGM owns the rights to through its 4,000-title library. The goal is to release two or three tentpoles a year, all of which will be made with financial partners, including Wall Street money or other studios.'
"Young men make wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution." -- Alec Guinness (Lawrence of Arabia)


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