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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

it’s official! Peter Jackson is making ‘The Hobbit’

Just got a press release from New Line Cinema. Here are the relevant details:

• Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will executive produce two films based on The Hobbit.

• New Line Cinema and MGM will coproduce and share worldwide distribution rights.

• New Line will “manage” the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.

• Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation related to The Lord of the Rings.
• Harry Sloan, chairman and CEO of MGM, says that all involved are now “focus[ing] on assembling the production team that will capture this phenomenal tale on film.”

• Bob Shaye, cochairman and co-CEO of New Line, says that “Peter and Fran will be actively and creative involved” with the project.

• Michael Lynne, cochairman and co-CEO of New Line, says that everyone is “delighted” that “the Tolkien saga will continue with [Jackson’s] imprint.”

• Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with a release of the first film in 2010 and the second in 2011.

There’s nothing in the release about who will direct the film, and it seems to me that everyone’s dancing around avoiding saying who will — or will not — be at the helm. If it’s not Jackson, who will it be? Rumors have been flying about a Sam Raimi Hobbit for ages now, but as much as I love his work, I don’t think he’s quite the right director for this. Who else could pull it off, if not Jackson?

And a bigger question: Who will star as Bilbo?

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