To my surprise, I find I’m on New Line Cinema’s PR list, so let me pass on this bit of news: Peter Jackson’s gonna make two films from The Hobbitt:
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.”
Why did this happen now, after many years of bitterness between Jackson and New Line over the Lord of the Rings payouts? I suppose there are many reasons, but I would suppose one very relevant proximate cause would be Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne trying to save their asses in the wake of the very expensive The Golden Compass cratering very badly at the box office ($40 million in two weeks, with a nearly 66% dropoff in the second weekend — not good news when your production budget is $180 million and you’ve sold off the foreign rights). My guess: it’ll work. Well done, Mr. Shaye and Mr. Lynne! And I can’t imagine that Mr. Jackson and friends will not profit handsomely from this either, so well done to him indeed. And all he had to do was wait until New Line needed him more than he needed New Line. Sneaky.
And for all you Tolkien geeks: Congrats, you get another trip to Middle Earth. Mind the dragons.
Oh, and look: The Hobbit Blog. Because it’s never too early for a Hobbit movie blog.
Update, 6pm: The New York Times suggests Jackson’s getting an extra $40 million to settle his differences with New Line. Well, Christmas is coming up. Gotta have spending money. I’ve also heard bruited about that only one of the films will be based on The Hobbit; the other will in some way cover the 60 or so years between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Lord of the Rings. If so, one hopes that the second film won’t in fact be two hours of Bilbo drinking himself silly and toking down on his favorite leaf. Which, while in character for a hobbit, would not make for gripping cinema.
Also, Jackson won’t be directing, just producing. For director, I nominate Guillermo Del Toro.