Peter Jackson Can’t Kick the Hobbit: He’s Signed On!

Peter Jackson: Middle Earth, A Hard Hobbit to Break

Some bits from various wire reports cut and pasted together:

Relations between Jackson and New Line soured after “Rings” despite a collective worldwide box office gross of nearly $3 billion, decimating records around the globe. After publicly warring for well over a year, “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have reached an agreement to make Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” a planned two-film prequel to the blockbuster trilogy. A director has yet to be named. Production is tentatively set to begin in 2009 with a 2010 release, and the second part following in 2011.

Two “Hobbit” films are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, which is how the three “Lord of the Rings” films were made. New Line said it was Jackson’s idea to divide the story, adapted from Tolkien’s first book about Middle Earth (which was about half the length of any from the trilogy that followed).

Jackson, who directed “LOTR,” will serve as executive producer for two “Hobbit” pictures. Jackson brought Tolkien’s Middle-Earth saga a total of 17 Academy Awards.

Late last year, acrimony between the Jackson and New Line became very public, but Jackson’s suit, the two sides announced today, has been settled. The terms of the settlement were not announced, though New Line cheerfully added, “One of the key terms was we all shake hands with each other.”

In his statement, Jackson thanked Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) Chairman and CEO Harry Sloan for helping him and New Line “find the common ground necessary to continue that journey.” He also said, “We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth.”

The film’s production schedule is subject to how long the writers’ strike lasts, which some forecast could continue for many months. There is not a script for either “Hobbit” film, and producers will be unable to even approach writers until the strike is over.

“If the writers’ strike drags on, then everything can change in terms of the timetable,” New Line said today.

In addition, Eric Seiden could be heard screaming nearly 100 miles away as he had a paroxysm of unbridled joy. Two films from a true-believer. What more could any fan want besides an accelerated production schedule.

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