Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peter Jackson to be Ringleader again

It seems that one ring truly does rule them all. After years of rancor and heated allegations in the press over a financial dispute, New Line Co-CEO Bob Shaye and director Peter Jackson have opted for a golden handshake to collaborate on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Put it this way, if these two men can set aside their differences, there's hope yet that Morrissey and Marr will reunite The Smiths.

Well, the Hobbit film is one good thing to come of "The Golden Compass," New Line's blah attempt to begin a new fantasy franchise. The film's poor box-office performance has seemingly spurred a flurry of phone calls between New Line and Jackson. Today's press release announced that the bare-footed Kiwi will executive produce a film version of "The Hobbit," a prequel of sorts to "The Lord of the Rings." Make that films. The first Hobbit movie will unspool in theaters in 2009 and the second part will arrive a year later. How will they create two movies from a book that seems like a mere pamphlet compared to the Biblical "Rings" series? A recent story in Entertainment Weekly speculated that additional material from Tolkien's "Silmarillion" book will be incorporated into the story.

Three questions remain. One: Will Jackson direct the venture? Sadly, the press release suggests that he'll merely oversee the creative aspect of the production while he works on finishing his adaptation of Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" and his trilogy of Tintin, the red-head Belgian comic-book hero with a quiff of the sort not seen since Cameron Diaz's use of, er, "hair mousse" in "There's Something About Mary." Two: Will the films be in 3-D? No mention of whether that's the case in the press release but, given Jackson's interest in the medium – his WETA effects house is working on James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar," and "Tintin" will require theatergoers to wear special-effex specs -- I'm speculating that it could be a possibility. And, third, since Andy Sirkis is working on "Tintin," will he be available to play Gollum?

Additional statements and updates from Entertainment Weekly, here.

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