Ten years ago this week The Fellowship of the Ring was released. Peter Jackson‘s first Tolkien adaption silenced a great many naysayers who said J.R.R. Tolkien‘s novels could never be properly translated to film. It also fostered a mainstream interest in fantasy movies that continues a decade later.

The development of a film based on Tolkien’s original Middle-Earth novel, The Hobbit, was the subject of speculation as soon as Jackson started work on The Lord of the Rings. Actually making the movie was a terrifically complicated process that involved rights deals, the financial solvency of MGM, a long period of development under original director Guillermo del Toro, and the eventual return of Peter Jackson to the director’s chair.

Now the first teaser trailer — a long teaser, at that — has been released for the first of two films based on the novel. Get the first look at footage from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, after the break. Read More »

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At this point what more is there to say about yet another dwarf reveal from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? (Other than, perhaps, “uh, where’s Thorin?”) Here is the latest image dispatch from Peter Jackson‘s version of Middle-Earth, featuring Ken Stott as Balin (on the left) and Graham McTavish as Dwalin.

These two guys are peers, more or less, for Thorin, the dwarf who assembles the company that travels from the Shire to the Misty Mountain. We’ll likely see Thorin next week, and hopefully a couple of the new human character, too. In the meantime, see the full new image below. Read More »

Ian Holm Is Back For ‘The Hobbit’

Briefly: Here’s minor but quite welcome news on The Hobbit. Director Peter Jackson has confirmed that Ian Holm will reprise the role of Bilbo Baggins in the films that have begun production in New Zealand. We don’t know how much we’ll see of the older version of Bilbo, as played by the actor in the Lord of the Rings films, but the following statement posted to Facebook confirms that we will see him:

One comment that came up from the recent video blog was the Bilbo voice at the end—many of you assumed it was Sir Ian Holm. Whilst Ian will be returning as the older Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, that recording was actually Martin Freeman’s voice, taken from a script read through we recorded when the cast first arrived. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure who it was when I first heard it, either. Cheers, Peter J

Perhaps he’ll be in the segments that will also feature Frodo? The video blog referred to there was the great ten-minute piece posted not long ago announcing the real beginning of production on the film(s). Check it out here.

James McAvoy as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit?Rumor has it that James McAvoy will play Bilbo Baggins in Guillermo del Toro‘s The Hobbit.  A source tells British newspaper the Daily Express:

“A number of names have been doing the rounds, including Daniel Radcliffe and Jack Black, but James (MCAvoy) is the one the film’s bosses really want. They’re expected to have talks soon so hopefully it could be confirmed in the not too distant future.”

Daniel Radcliffe? Jack Black? Really? The Daily Express isn’t exactly the most accurate source of information and these names seem more random than believable. In Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, Baggins was played by Ian Holm. Guillermo said in an online chat last week that he still has plans to utilize Ian Holm “in some fashion for sure” and that “the difficulty of the role will be better assessed after” the screenplays are completed. del Toro told Empire Magazine last week:

“We are writing based on [Ian Holm's performance], but other than that, we have ideas [of who could play him],” Del Toro told us. “I can tell you that it’s down to a few names that we all agree upon. And that our first choice…completely, magically, we said the same name. All of us!”

del Toro also said that we can expect “at least a year before we announce any casting”. So true or not true, don’t expect an official selection for a while.

Discuss: Who should play Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit? 

Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro

Earlier today, executive producer Peter Jackson and director Guillermo del Toro answered questions from fans in an online chat about The Hobbit and its announced sequel. We have the entire transcript available after the jump, but have compiled cliff notes for those who don’t have the time to read the full transcript:

Guillermo has already begun sketching design ideas in his notebook. The plan is to write and start early conceptual designs for the rest of the year. 2009 will be dedicated to pre-production on both movies and 2010 will be the year the films are shot back to back “with a small break to breathe and to reconstruct certain sets and have time to reassess”

No casting has commenced and won’t until the scripts are written. Guillermo insists thay “Unequivocally, every single actor that originated a role in the Trilogy will be asked to participate and reprise it. If Health, availability or willigness become obstacles – and only in that case recasting would be considered.” Ian Holm will be utilized “in some fashion for sure but the difficulty of the role will be better assessed after” the screenplays are completed. del Toro revealed that he also has plans for Ron Perlman in the film, but not as the voice of Smog.

Both movies will be PG-13, shot 2:35:1 aspect ration (as was the Trilogy) on film. There are no current plans to release the movies in 3D. Howard Shore is in talks to return to compose the score. Much of the original production team will be brought back supplemented by choices from del Toro.

Middle-earth will be shot on location in New Zealand with real set construction preferred over green screen. They plan on rebuilding Hobbiton “bigger and even better” in the same location.

As for the special effects, del Toro plans “to mix CGI and PHYSICAL in such a way that your eye wonders which is which- keep you mind busy but NEVER allowing for the weaknesses of either tool to take over. … Imagine a physical creature with a radio controlled muscle / facial system but with partial CGI replacement on the head or mouth, etc and you’ll start to get the idea…”

Guillermo del Toro describes his vision: “The book, I believe, in echoing the “loss of innocence” England experienced after WWI, is a passage form innocence to a darker, more somber state- The visual / thematic progression should reflect that in the camera style, color palette, textural choices, etc.” “I hope that Mirkwood can be pretty scary but not graphic, I hope Riddles in the dark has an element of fear and suspense and to be deeply atmospheric but still allow the ingenious, engaging contest to take place. And Smaug should be all shock and awe when he unleashes his anger so, it will be pretty intense but not gorey.” “The world must feel like the same world [as the one showed in Jackson's films]. The aspect ratio, music, essential established costume and production design trademarks but I would love to bring a lot of new flavours to the table. THE HOBBIT is, in essence, an overture to a massive Symphonic work so main themes are reprised but new modulations and new colors are introduced, thematically and texturally.” “I am all for trying to preserve every idiosyncrasy the novel has- the very things that seem “unfilmable” and that – in my mind- will make it thrilling as a film.”

The second film doesn’t have a title yet, and won’t until the script is written. del Toro says “The idea is to find a compelling way to join THE HOBBIT and FELLOWSHIP and enhance the 5 films both visually an in their Cosmology. There’s omissions and material enough in the available, licensed material to attempt this. The agreement is, however, that the second film must be relevant and emotionally strong enough to be brought to life but that we must try and contain the HOBBIT in a single film.” Jackson says “If we wished to write one of the LOTR characters into the narrative of Film Two, we would only do that with that actors blessing, and willingness to take part. Otherwise we’d take the writing in another direction.”

A Blu-ray release of Lord of The Rings is being worked on, but won’t be released this year.

Full transcript after the jump.

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New Ratatouille Photos

rat3.jpg

Disney has released a bunch of new character stills from Pixar’s presentation of Ratatouille. Check them out below:

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Ratatouille

We didn’t post this last week when it leaked on to YouTube, but now that the official Japanese Ratatouille Movie Trailer is now live on Disney.co.jp in Quicktime, what’s to stop us? And we also have a new unreleased Ratatouille photo still and updated plot synopsis.
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