Last week we reported that MGM and Warner Bros. were still pursuing Peter Jackson to take charge of The Hobbit, despite the director having previously stated that other commitments (the Tintin trilogy he is working on with Steven Spielberg) would preclude his involvement. Now, Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Jackson has decided to direct both installments of the two-part prequel, and is in final negotiations with Warner Bros., New Line, and MGM at this very moment.
This couldn’t be better news for fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, who were sorely disappointed when Pan’s Labyrinth auteur Guillermo del Toro walked away from the project last month. Del Toro’s departure left the future of The Hobbit in doubt, especially after David Dobkin and Brett Ratner‘s names were floated as possible replacements.
We wrote last week that MGM and Warner Bros. should hold out for Jackson to change his mind, and now it looks as though the Middle Earth-set franchise, based on the works of author J.R.R. Tolkien, is once again in the director’s capable hands. While we were somewhat appeased by last week’s rumor that District 9 director and Jackson protege Neill Blomkamp would be taking control of the project, this franchise belongs to Jackson, and we couldn’t be happier that he has agreed to return to Middle Earth. Insiders report that Jackson has already begun extricating himself from his other project obligations.
It’s a good thing, too, because the huge box office gross that Jackson’s presence guarantees may be the only thing that will convince MGM to risk its financially unsure future and finally get this project greenlit. The Hobbit has languished in development hell for a long time – too long for del Toro – but now that Jackson is on board, we can expect things to get moving quickly in the director’s native New Zealand, where both films will be shot back-to-back.