Christmas just landed early for fans of JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings and of director Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of those books.
Jackson and New Line Cinema have finally settled their differences and announced today that they will be producing, in conjunction with MGM Studios, two new films based on Tolkien’s The Hobbit and other material which will serve as a prequel to Jackson’s fantasy trilogy.
A press statement released earlier today confirmed what many had felt would be the plan if the project ever got off the ground. The first of the two films will adapt Tolkien’s Hobbit while the second film will be drawn from numerous notes about the story’s Middle Earth setting and will serve as a bridge between The Hobbit film and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Pre-production is expected to begin almost immediately, with a tentative 2009 start date for filming. Both films will be shot simultaneously, with The Hobbit hitting screens in 2010 and the second film a year later.
The press release does not confirm, however, a previous report that the two films might be shot in 3D.
While Jackson is set to produce, there has been no word has been said as to who may actually write and direct the films. Surely the first choice of everyone involved would be to have Jackson himself helm the pictures. However, his plate is a bit full right now. Location shooting for his current film The Lovely Bones has just wrapped this past Friday in Philadelphia and is scheduled to resume in the new year at his home studio in New Zealand. Also, Jackson is set to direct one of the three animated Tin Tin films he is currently developing with Steven Spielberg. Will he have both of these projects out of the way in time for a 2009 production start for these two films? Will his work on Lovely Bones and Tin Tin keep him from co-writing the screenplay?
The complete text of the press release is as follows-
PETER JACKSON AND NEW LINE CINEMA JOIN WITH MGM TO PRODUCE “THE HOBBIT”
December 18, 2007
ACADEMY AWARD-WINNER PETER JACKSON AND NEW LINE CINEMA JOIN WITH MGM TO PRODUCE “THE HOBBIT,” EAGERLY-ANTICIPATED FANTASY ADVENTURE EPIC
NEW LINE AND MGM TO CO-PRODUCE AND SHARE WORLDWIDE
PETER JACKSON AND FRAN WALSH TO EXECUTIVE PRODUCE
TWO FILMS BASED ON “THE HOBBIT”
Los Angeles, CA (Tuesday, December 18, 2007) Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson; Harry Sloan, Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM); Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs of New Line Cinema have jointly announced today that they have entered into the following series of agreements:
* MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute two films, The Hobbit and a sequel to The Hobbit. New Line will distribute in North America and MGM will distribute internationally.
* Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as Executive Producers of two films based on The Hobbit. New Line will manage the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.
* Peter Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation relating to the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Trilogy.
Said Peter Jackson, “I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line. The Lord of the Rings is a legacy we proudly share with Bob and Michael, and together, we share that legacy with millions of loyal fans all over the world. We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth. I also want to thank Harry Sloan and our new friends at MGM for helping us find the common ground necessary to continue that journey.”
“Peter Jackson has proven himself as the filmmaker who can bring the extraordinary imagination of Tolkien to life and we full heartedly agree with the fans worldwide who know he should be making The Hobbit,” said Sloan, MGM’s Chairman and CEO. “Now that we are all in agreement on The Hobbit, we can focus on assembling the production team that will capture this phenomenal tale on film.”
Bob Shaye, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO comments, “We are very pleased we have been able to resolve our differences, and that Peter and Fran will be actively and creatively involved with The Hobbit movies. We know they will bring the same passion, care and talent to these films that they so ably accomplished with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.”
“Peter is a visionary filmmaker, and he broke new ground with The Lord of the Rings,” notes Michael Lynne, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO. “We’re delighted he’s back for The Hobbit films and that the Tolkien saga will continue with his imprint. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Harry Sloan, who has been instrumental in helping us reach our new accord.”
The two Hobbit films – The Hobbit and its sequel – are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of The Hobbit release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.
The Oscar-winning, critically-acclaimed LOTR Trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box-office. In 2003, Return of the King swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the eleven categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture – the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The Trilogy’s production was also unprecedented at the time.
For more information about The Hobbit films, please visit http://www.thehobbitblog.com/.
About New Line Cinema
Corporation:Celebrating its 40th anniversary year, New Line Cinema is the most successful independent film company in the world. Its mission is to produce innovative, popular and profitable entertainment in the best creative environment. In addition to the production, marketing and distribution of theatrical motion pictures, the fully-integrated studio has divisions devoted to home entertainment, television, music, theater, merchandising and an international unit. In 2005, New Line partnered with HBO to form Picturehouse, a new theatrical distribution company to release independent films. A pioneer in franchise filmmaking, New Line’s Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most successful film franchises in history. New Line is a division of Time Warner, Inc. (TWX).
Inc.:Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., through its operating subsidiaries, is actively engaged in the worldwide production and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, home video, interactive media, music and licensed merchandise. The company owns the world’s largest library of modern films, comprising around 4,100 titles. Operating units include Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc., United Artists Films Inc., Ventanazul, MGM Television Entertainment Inc., MGM Networks Inc., MGM Domestic Networks LLC, MGM Distribution Co, MGM International Television Distribution In, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment LLC, MGM ON STAGE, MGM Music, MGM Worldwide Digital Media, MGM Consumer Products and MGM Interactive. In addition, MGM has ownership interests in international TV channels reaching nearly 120 countries. MGM ownership is as follows: Providence Equity Partners (29%), TPG (21%), Sony Corporation of America (20%), Comcast (20%), DLJ Merchant Banking Partners (7%) and Quadrangle Group (3%). For more information, visit http://www.mgm.com/.
About Peter Jackson/Wingnut Films:Peter Jackson is one of the world’s most successful filmmakers. His monumental achievement co-writing, co-producing and directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy (with fellow Academy Award winners and frequent collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) earned a total of 30 Academy Award nominations and 17 Academy Awards. Jackson and Walsh received their first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for their acclaimed film Heavenly Creatures. Jackson, through his New Zealand-based Wingnut Films banner, also was responsible for the globally successful 2005 remake of King Kong which earned over $500 million worldwide and 3 Academy Awards. Currently, Jackson is directing an adaptation of The Lovely Bones, from the acclaimed best-selling novel by Alice Sebold. He is also developing a trilogy of films with Steven Spielberg based on Tintin, the world renowned comic book series by Herge.
Via The Hobbit Blog