So there is good news on The Hobbit front: it is a go. Peter Jackson has signed on as executive producer (I will link news releases at the bottom, but I was turned on to this by www.theonering.net and wanted to let you all know to check out that site if you care at all about LOTR and these movies. They have interesting tidbits on just about everything pop up daily over there).
The negotiations bring Peter and Fran Walsh as producers instead of Peter at the helm as director. His reasons were simply that he didn't have time to direct it and still fulfill his current obligations to other projects. The studios want a 2009 release.
Another interesting tidbit is that the format will actually be for two movies. They are making the first one of the book's events, and the second will be to bring us up to speed with the events that bridge The Hobbit with LOTR. I think this is a fantastic idea.
There has been mixed fan reaction to this (with the majority of fans seeming to be adamant that Peter is the only man for the job of director). I admit that I felt that way until very recently. Then I started reading the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and I remembered how different of a feel each of these books (The hobbit and LOTR) had from each other. The choice comes down to this: is it worth waiting a few extra years for Peter's schedule to free up, or is it wiser to not only capitalize on the success of LOTR and strike while the iron is hot, but also to move forward while actors such as Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee still have enough energy to pull off convincing wizards in battle? The other issue is, could another director do as well a job? My opinion is that while The Hobbit is a set-up for LOTR, it is its own story and I have no problem with it having a different feel than LOTR. As long as Peter is involved in the role of producer, I feel that the movie will be able to maintain a similar feel/vibe as LOTR while still letting us get into the world of The Hobbit, which has a very different stlye. Let's face it, while the events of The Hobbit are very serious to those involved, it does not carry with it the weight of doom that LOTR does. It is much more light-hearted and really is an adventure tale.
Either way, I'm excited for these movies to be made and as long as Peter is involved I feel safe that they will turn out well.
And now, the news releases:
New York Times
For further reading:
The Official The Hobbit Movie Blog