The Hobbit: Peter Jackson and New Zealand Are Ready For Production
After a slew of speed bumps, The Hobbit is ready for production in New Zealand with Peter Jackson as the mastermind.
The journey to bring The Hobbit to the big screen has been as long and winding as the actual journey in the book that takes Bilbo and his dwarf companions into battle against armies, orcs, goblins and dragons. But at long last it seems that the journey has come to an end and things are as they should be.
The drama started shortly after the release and massive success of The Return of the King. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has been an enormous success and The Return of the King not only did huge numbers at the box office but it won multiple Golden Globe and Academy Awards. The world loved The Lord of the Rings and was hungry for more. So it made perfect sense to then make The Hobbit into a movie that had the same realism, grittiness and quality as the first LOTR movies. Peter Jackson began looking into it. He had written, produced and directed the Lord of the Rings movies and was tired. He would probably not direct, but would be involved. That is when the trouble started.
The first sign of trouble came when there was a disagreement as to who exactly owned the film rights to The Hobbit. New Line (who produced the first three LOTR movies) was ready to roll. They wanted Jackson to start immediately. MGM stepped in with a claim to the book. The two studios worked out their differences and agreed to co-produce it. Then Jackson, feeling he had been slighted on earnings from various games, merchandising and other video from the first three movies filed a suit to have New Line audited to make sure he wasn’t owed any money. He let the lawsuit work itself out and went to work. As they were about to begin the writing/pre-production process the Tolkien family stepped in and filed a suit against New Line. They claimed they were due 7.2% of the profit from the movies which came to around $220 million. To date they had only been paid about $62,000. They wanted production on The Hobbit stopped until this matter was settled.
While the lawsuits raged Peter Jackson moved forward. He hired Guillermo Del Toro to direct The Hobbit and they began writing the script. Things between them went well as they hashed out the story and worked extensively on the script. In 2010, having spent two years on the project Del Toro grew tired of the delays and left the project. Jackson then announced he would take over as the director.
As New Line settled with the Tolkien estate and pre-production moved ahead, the film (actually films, because the movie will be shown in two parts) got rolling. It was then that the latest setback occurred. Unhappy with their pay and working conditions an actor’s union in New Zealand (where the movies will be shot) went on strike. Their strike threatened yet another setback. Jackson even considered moving the location of the film to somewhere else in an effort to keep the movie on schedule. Today it was announced that the studios and the union have reached an agreement and will put forth legislation tomorrow that will define the differences between an actual employee of the movie production and an independent contractor. They will also announce a long term deal between New Zealand and the studios that will help bring tourism as well as other movies to the country.
This week also saw the finalizing of some cast members. While Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen are not officially on board to revive their roles as Gollum and Gandolf it is pretty certain that they will be brought into the fold very soon.
So at long last and after more than four years of drama, twists and turns, the cast is in place (Martin Freeman will play Bilbo), Peter Jackson is at the director’s helm, everyone in New Zealand is happy and The Hobbit is a go. I’m geeking out just thinking about it.
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