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.
The rest of the announcement is Hollywoodese I only recommend for those with high saccharine tolerance.
My thought? So much smoke and mirrors — this reads more than anything like New Line going “Argh we want more money please but we’re going to lose the rights if we don’t act!,” MGM whistling idly thinking “Hey, we’ll take some of that cash” and Peter Jackson thinking, “I’ll take some too! Because being an executive producer means I don’t actually have to do much and I can work on Tintin adaptations instead!”
Anyway. They only have to carry over three cast members from LOTR to achieve full consistency — Ian McKellen as Gandalf, obviously, plus Hugo Weaving as Elrond and Andy Serkis as Gollum. Ian Holm’s too old to play Bilbo so they’ll figure out something else. Everyone else can be cast from scratch. Presumably WETA will handle all the design and special effects and hopefully they can bring Howard Shore on board again for the music.
But to hell with it. Just give me a good Smaug.
(As for the news of this sequel — uh. THAT I don’t know about.)
[UPDATE: as Simon H. just said on ILX, “I wonder if this still would have happened if Golden Compass hadn’t bombed so hard.” I’ll be seeing said film tomorrow night but my expectations are pretty low right about now.]
[UPDATE 2: Also from ILX, something which explains it all:
Jackson’s lawsuit was for ~$100mn – I wonder what he got in the settlement?
— milo z, Tuesday, December 18, 2007 10:57 AM (25 minutes ago)
— Frogman Henry, Tuesday, December 18, 2007 11:22 AM (46 seconds ago)
Now for a photo.]