So, you thought that after SAG and AFTRA called off the labor union boycott of The Hobbit that things would be all smooth sailing for the production? Nope. Despite an end to the union dispute that started with a pairing of a small New Zealand actors’ organization and an Australian outfit and grew to encompass some of the largest motion picture unions, The Hobbit may still leave New Zealand.

Where would the production go? Eastern Europe has been one possible destination, as mentioned by Peter Jackson. But his wife, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings co-writer and co-producer Fran Walsh, says Warner Bros. is keen on using the Leavesden Studios where Harry Potter was shot. Read More »

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This is a surprising turn of events for The Hobbit. When a small coalition of actors’ unions in New Zealand and Australia pushed actors’ guilds across the world to boycott work on the films, citing an unfair residuals arrangement, Peter Jackson responded by threatening to move the production to Eastern Europe.

But that would never happen, right? The organizations wouldn’t push away a huge chunk of work like the two Hobbit films by holding firm to a set of demands for which the production and backers at Warner Bros. have sought appropriate solutions — that would be crazy.

And yet Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are now saying that Warner Bros. will move the films out of New Zealand to a yet to be disclosed new shooting location. So is this a done deal, or just an escalated threat by the studio? Read More »

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Someone probably saw this coming, after his frustrated-sounding comments the other day (with respect to MGM’s troubles slowing down the films) but it is still a shock to see that Guillermo del Toro is no longer directing The Hobbit for producer Peter Jackson.

del Toro announced his departure via long-running LotR fansite The One Ring, and you can read his comments after the break. Read More »

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Update: Entertainment Weekly have spoken to Ken Kamins, Jackson’s manager and received some kind of weak denial. He said: “It sounds like an April Fool’s joke. Peter and Fran are working diligently on The Hobbit for the foreseeable future.” Which is basically equivalent to answering the question “Will you join me for dinner tonight?” by saying “That sounds like you’re hitting me. I’ll be diligently washing my hair for the foreseeable future”.  I think Fry may have gotten the wrong end of the stick here, somehow… but that it’s still just about possible there is a stick to get the wrong end of.

Here’s a story I wasn’t expecting to hear today. Even more, I wasn’t expecting to hear it from Stephen Fry.

A popular British radio show with film buffs (and some UK readers of this site, I’ve noticed from the comments) is Simon Mayo’s afternoon slot on BBC Five Live. On a Friday, he features movie reviews and often guests, and today one such guest was none other than the aforementioned Fry. When the conversation came around to the Peter Jackson/Christian Rivers Dambusters remake for which Fry has written the screenplay, he couldn’t reveal much news at all – it sounds like the picture is just in some kind of holding pattern – but he did have some brilliant incidental information about Jackson.

Read More »

Writing Team Announced For The Hobbit

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Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro have announced that writing has begun on The Hobbit and the announced Hobbit sequel. Jackson partner Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have also been revealed as part of the writing team. Both Walsh and Boyens were part of the creative team behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Originally Jackson and del Toro were to oversee a writing team in penning both films. Jackson and del Toro made time in their schedules to become more involved in the process. This is great news because Jackson, Walsh and Boyens have an intimate knowledge of the Tolkien’s Middle Earth that would probably take months upon months of hardcore research for a new creative team. del Toro described the process as “something beautiful” while phoning in for a recent Hellboy II question and answer session.

The current plan is to begin shooting both films simultaneously in late-2009, with hopes of releasing The Hobbit in 2011, followed up the next year with the sequel. It does seem like they are rushing this a bit, but with a good creative team on board to pen the adaptations, I have a good feeling it will work out in the end. I’m still a bit hesitant about what exactly The Hobbit sequel will contain, and if it will be possible to create a narrative of the years in-between.

sources: OneRing, THR

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Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro has OFFICIALLY signed on to direct The Hobbit and it’s sequel. The Hobbit sequel, which is currently untitled will deal with the 60-year period between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will executive produce the project which will be co-financed by New Line Cinema and MGM, with Warner Brothers distributing domestically and MGM distributing internationally. del Toro will have to move to New Zealand for the next four years to work with Jackson and WETA on the back-to-back film projects. Del Toro won’t leave for New Zealand until later this year as he’s still doing post-production work on Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which will hit theaters in July. If the production begins next year, The Hobbit and it’s sequel could hit theaters in late 2011 and 2012.

I’m extremely excited to see what del Toro will be able to bring to the Lord of the Rings universe. No screenplay has been set for the epic prequel, but it is expected that the Lord of the Rigns scripting team of Jackson, Walsh and Philippa Boyens will work on the two screenplays in collaboration with Del Toro. I hope he Guillermo given a chance to make the project his own. At the same time I am disappointed that this will cannibalize Guillermo for the next four years, as I know he has so many great films in him itching to come out.

Discuss: What do you think now that it is official that Guillermo del Toro will be directing The Hobbit?

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