Yesterday we brought you the depressing and unfortunate news that New Line has cast aside Peter Jackson as a potential director for their new Lord of the Rings project, a prequel based on Tolkien’s first book “The Hobbit”. There’s a catch though… New Line Cinema doesn’t own the rights to make The Hobbit. Well not all of them.
It’s long been a point of some confusion among LOTR fans, but apparently New Line shares the rights with MGM and the two studios have been in hot debate over which of them will get to make it ever since LOTR arrived and theaters and made New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson filthy stinking rich. So when New Line says they aren’t going to make The Hobbit with Peter Jackson, that assumes that they’re making the movie at all. MGM could still end up making it.
With New Line earning the ire of fans for foolishly pissing off PJ, MGM is now more than happy to play the good guy. In response to New Line’s decision, they released a statement to Variety which says the following: “the matter of Peter Jackson directing 'The Hobbit' films is far from closed.” Apparently New Line has MGM more than a little pissed, since MGM has been screaming for months that they, not New Line Cinema would be the ones to make a Hobbit movie.
The whole business with New Line and Peter Jackson is all because of a money grubbing lawsuit ongoing between the two, and really should have nothing to do with MGM anyway. But New Line has now spoken as if The Hobbit is theirs, and PJ has responded to them as if they are indeed the only players in The Hobbit game. And frankly, Jackson doesn’t sound all that interested in fighting to make The Hobbit anyway.
Which leaves MGM standing alone in the street holding a bag full of stuffed Smaug dolls. If MGM makes the movie, it sounds like they are at least interested in getting Jackson. But who knows if they’ll be the ones to make it and even if they do, at this point Jackson doesn’t sound that interested in making it. It’s almost as if he’s using the whole New Line business as a convenient excuse for him to get out of making it without pissing off his devoted Lord of the Rings fan base. Call me jaded, but MGM’s statements now make me really skeptical about the whole thing. To me, it seems like both Jackson and New Line are trying to use the ire of fans as a way of forcing the other side into giving them their way with the ongoing LOTR mega-profits lawsuit and none of this really has anything to do with The Hobbit or LOTR fans.
In better news, Peter Jackson’s production company WETA has told The One Ring that even if Peter doesn’t make the film they’d still be available to do the effects work on The Hobbit. WETA head honcho Richard Taylor tells OneRing, “We're hopeful that we may be invited to work on The Hobbit. There's nothing more that we would like to do in our careers.” So even if PJ doesn’t direct, having WETA involved might mean at least some chance of achieving a similar, contiguous look throughout all four Lord of the Rings films.