Thursday, December 20, 2007

Peter Jackson Returns to the Shire

Peter Jackson directs Sean Astin in LOTR: Return of the King (2003)
photo Pierre Vinét/New Line Productions

Jackson to Executive Produce “The Hobbit” in Two Film Deal

After a bitter feud with New Line over payment for their share of the work of the $3 billion taken in so far of all three Lord of the Rings movies, Peter Jackson and New Line have kissed and made up.

Jackson and partner Fran Walsh will now Executive Produce -- Jackson will not write, direct & produce as done previously -- The Hobbit, to be filmed in two movies, lensed, as has become his trademark with the Lord of the Rings, simultaneously.

Hollywood Reporter

Preproduction will begin in January, and principal photography for the films, which will be shot simultaneously, is tentatively set for 2009. The production budget is estimated at $150 million per film. The release of the first film is slated for 2010 and the sequel in 2011.

"I think that we all realized that we were getting nowhere, and in some ways it's possible that the lawyers and the accountants and everyone that got in the middle of this were not serving the objective," Shaye said. "We had to start listening to our own conscience and our own objectives, which was to make this happen."

Lynne said the dispute was about "very complicated documents, in same cases documents that were created many years ago, and differences of opinions that people could have about those documents. It was having that disagreement over financial situations that was of historical financial proportions that created a polarization."

The parties involved singled out MGM's Sloan for helping find common ground.

MGM got involved in the past six months, managing to get the parties to talk to one another. The deal for the new films was signed only in the past few days, after a settlement had been reached.

"You're talking about powerful men who had strong differences of opinion," Sloan said. "When you start with no one talking to anyone, someone has to come in to talk to both sides. We encouraged them to see the great possibility to create what could be in my opinion another masterpiece. We wanted them to see the possibility and not let that slip away."
I'm incredibly pleased at this news.

It demonstrates -- right in the midst of the WGA strike -- that talent and the studios can work out complicated issues of profit sharing, in the midst of deep distrust. (As always, for up to the moment news, check

Second, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are to the cinematic version of these works, what Tolkien was to the written version -- its creator. To have anyone else helming the project would have risked... everything.

Finally, given I'm taking delivery in January of RED Camera #346 -- *smiles deeply* -- I'm wondering if Peter Jackson who has already directed the short film Crossing the Line on RED and who sings its praises at every turn will use RED? There's an entire thread at the REDUser board, asking the same question.

My children absolutely adore the Lord of the Rings (and Harry Potter.) This is going to make them very, very happy.