MGM: The Hobbit To Start In January? Rumors Of Bond's Return Begin To Circulate

...aaand we're back with another maybe-accurate report on plans for The Hobbit, courtesy of Sir Ian McKellen. This latest 'news' comes via statements the actor made to The Bolton News, to which he said he is definitely returning as Gandalf, and that "the aim is to start filming in January." Last time we heard anything from the actor he sounded quite frustrated about the delays experienced by the film, and suggested that he might not be able to wait around much longer.

So what changed? For one, Spyglass Entertainment has made moves to take over MGM and restructure the studio, the short-term goal being to recapitalize and get two film projects rolling. Specifically, The Hobbit and a new James Bond film. More on Bond, after the break.

Meanwhile, in Deadline's report about The Hunger Games, there's a little nugget of Bond rumor. One of the directors on the shortlist for The Hunger Games was Sam Mendes, but Deadline says that be "bowed out" at the end of last week because MGM's situation is sorted out ot the point where " it looks like production on 007 could begin by late summer or early fall, 2011 with Mendes at the helm and Daniel Craig back in the Aston Martin."

That's still rather far off, but that's a very vague vote of confidence in the Bond situation and in MGM's state in general, as Spyglass Entertainment prepares to take control of the studio. A January start date for The Hobbit seems rather optimistic at this point, but not out of the realm of possibility. A late summer / early fall beginning for Bond 23 could very well be on the proper timeline, as that would give Spyglass time to sort out MGM and then have the studio and EON Productions get back into proper development on Bond.