Friday, October 15, 2010

The Hobbit Gets Green Light, Peter Jackson Directing

The day The Lord of the Rings fans have been waiting to hear has come. The Hobbit has received the official green light. Peter Jackson has signed on to direct. Doesn't get any better than that really. From THR:
The announcement, made jointly by New Line president and COO Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. president and COO Alan Horn, and MGM co-CEO Steve Cooper, says the "the two films based on 'The Hobbit' are now greenlit and will begin principal photography in February 2011, under the direction of Peter Jackson."
For the last 9 or so months, Peter Jackson has been working on unofficial pre-production for the films. At this point the only meaningful delay is making sure MGM has the money to pay for production and getting actors hired, signed, and fitted for costumes. Assuming these major obstacles can be overcome within a reasonable time frame, the tentative schedule to begin filming is February.

On the financial front, the LA Times reports there is at least a plan in place to sure that MGM can cover their half of the $500 million cost of the two films.
Although MGM is still not financially able to foot its part of the bill, it had to commit to the production before filming could start. MGM is expected to talk to potential funding sources, including other studios that could handle foreign distribution on its behalf. As a backup plan, Warner Bros. has agreed to loan MGM the money in exchange for additional rights to the picture beyond the domestic distribution it already controls.
The actor boycott does have a plan B, complete with a near two week deadline set by Peter Jackson to reach some resolution. However, NZ Equity, MEAA, SAG continue to drag their feet on having the necessary meetings to reach a resolution. They also continue to shun the press and avoid providing any specifics on what demands they want to have addressed. Assuming the unions behave as they have for the last three weeks, production will have to move to another country which will complicate the start date. The move may not necessarily end the boycott but supposedly part of the reason for the boycott is the production wasn't unionized to begin with. If it is moved to a country that already has union agreements in place, then the boycott becomes moot, sadly at the cost of thousands of New Zealand jobs and billions in revenue.

The Dominion Post did got a few additional statements.
“Exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth goes way beyond a normal film making experience” Jackson said, "It’s an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama. "We’re looking forward to re-entering this wondrous world with Gandalf and Bilbo - and our friends at New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers and MGM”.

“There is no human being on the planet as qualified as Peter Jackson to direct these films,” said Warner Bros president Alan Horn. “Peter is incredibly talented and has the creative vision and experience to bring this beloved property to life in a way that no other film-maker could."

“Peter is a filmmaker of incomparable ability; having him return to Middle-earth to produce and direct is a dream come true. A true original, Jackson is a gifted story-teller, visionary director and pioneer in film technology,” said New Line Cinema president Toby Emmerich. “Reuniting with Peter, Fran and Philippa on truly makes it feel like we are going ‘there and back again.’”

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