1/25/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Tim Strain

From a Variety report about the state of New Line Cinema comes an announcement by the studio that “The Hobbit” will be pushed back another year--to late 2012.

The story will be broken into two films. Director Guillermo Del Toro is currently working on the script for the second film, collaborating with executive producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Principal photography is supposed to begin in June, according to The Playlist, and will last for fourteen months. That would leave very little time for post-production for a project that, according to New Line President Toby Emmerich, is “similar, though this is more expensive and much more of a known entity," to the “Lord of the Rings.”

The first of the two films, tentatively entitled “The Hobbit Part I,” was previously set to hit theaters around Christmas 2011, but Warner Bros. President Alan Horn says the most probable scenario would be a release in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Variety.

The “Lord of the Rings” shot over fourteen months in more than 150 different locations in 1999 and 2000, leaving more than a year of post-production for the release of “The Fellowship of the Ring” in December 2001. Emmerich oversaw post-production of the “Lord of the Rings” and will do so again on “The Hobbit.”

A decision this big about a property this big is never done solely for creative reasons; there are serious business factors involved. According to Variety:

“New Line's "LOTR" financing scheme, in which foreign presales provided much of the budget for the trilogy, is not how "Hobbit" is being bankrolled. Instead, New Line shares financing rights with MGM/UA, which bought the original rights in 1969; the complication this time around is that the Lion could conceivably sell those rights as part of MGM's restructuring.”

New Line has been drastically downsized over the course of the decade. Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, MGM executives who oversaw “LOTR,” “Austin Powers,” “Rush Hour” and “A Nightmare on El Street” to fame, quit in 2007 (or were pushed out, depending on who you ask). The company has folded into Warner since then.

It has been on a roll of late. According to the Variety report, 15 of the 17 collaborations with Warner since the merger have been profitable. With the notoriety of the property and creative talent involved here, the studio can afford to give the project as much time as needed. The budget has not been established, but it will likely be something between $300 and $400 million. New Line made “LOTR” on the cheap, investing about $93 million for each movie that eventually made about $1 billion worldwide. They have a lot more confidence with the built-in audience of “LOTR” die-hards and the potential for “The Hobbit” to be in 3-D after “Avatar’s” ongoing onslaught on the box office and will again be betting the ranch. It is still only in the scripting stage of pre-production and has yet to be cast.

According to IMDbPro, several members of the “LOTR” cast are rumored to be joining “The Hobbit’s” cast. Andy Serkis as Gollum, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, and Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett as Galadriel may be joined by Del Toro frequenters Ron Perlman and Doug Jones. Then again, Del Toro told The One Ring that only three members will be returning from the “LOTR.” Again, it’s all speculation at this point.

Bilbo Baggins has yet to be cast, with many big names having been rumored for months. James McAvoy and Tobey Maguire have both shot down rumors of interest in the project. Casting began in December, and unknowns are being sought. Viggo Mortenson has expressed interest in reprising his role as Aragorn if the script is up to snuff, but has also stated that he may be retiring from acting. Going out with a performance like his in “The Road” would be kind of classy, but of course a bummer too. We can hope, though.

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  1. Misscrabbypants said...

    This is frustrating.
    I understand but I can't help whining about how long it will take.
    I am positive that it will be worth the wait.