- 18 April 2010
- By Gerard Wood
We haven’t had a lot to say about the two Hobbit movies for some time as there hasn't really been any news since it was announced that Peter Jackson, Gullermo Del Toro and Company had started work on the scripts. Of course, the lack of news of any substance has rarely got in the way of an attention-seeking headline and that’s never more true than with projects such as The Hobbit in which anticipation runs obsessively high. For months the web has been flooded with wild speculation about everything from casting to production start dates and while it’s generally harmless fun it does muddy the waters of truth and fact.
Well, it seems that we can forget most of what we thought we knew about The Hobbit movies. In an interview with Moviefone on Friday, Peter Jackson rendered the bloated carcass of rumour and speculation down to some fairly minimal facts and all that can be said for certain is that Guillermo Del Toro is directing and Peter Jackson is executive producer.
There is some good news however. The scripts for the two movies have just been completed and were submitted to the studio last week, “which is a milestone,” Jackson told Moviefone, “and if anything was holding [the project] up, it was us doing the screenplays, because we'd just been writing as fast as we can, but it took us this long to get them finished. So we take whatever responsibility there is for the speed. And we're now in the process of budgeting the films, and then hopefully we'll get to a budget the studio are happy with, and they'll green light the movies and we'll announce the shooting dates. I'd be pretty optimistic that we'll be shooting before the end of the year. I would imagine October, November, we'd be shooting by.
"I'm not announcing it, though,” he adds, cautious to avoid feeding the rumour mill with speculation that is too easily promoted as fact, and which inevitably leads to headlines of yet another delay in production. On those pesky headlines, Jackson simply observes, [w]ell, it's not really been delayed, because we've never announced the date. I mean it's sort of interesting because the studio [MGM] has never green lit The Hobbit, so therefore The Hobbit has never been officially announced as a "go" project, nor have we ever announced a date. But there's so much interest that people - newspapers and magazines - of their own account, say, ah, it's likely to film in May, it's likely to film in June, it's likely to film in September. People make this stuff up. And then if it's not filming in June, you get a story saying, "The Hobbit’s been delayed." But it's never actually been announced.”
Some rumours however have a greater aura of credibility than others due to their source, and it's revealing that even those fairly authoritative statements by members of the cast of Lord of the Rings about who is and who is not returning are in fact little more than speculation. Jackson is adamant that none of the cast has been approached formally with a deal. In fact, “[w]e haven't signed any actors up yet, because we couldn't do that until [the studio] green light the movie. But I would imagine that if we get a green light within the next month or two, we would be hopefully making some casting announcements by, I guess, the middle of the year. We've done a little bit of auditioning, but we haven't really done any meetings with actors or anything yet. We've just been totally committed to the scripts. Everything's a little bit later than what people assume it is. I think people think we've been sort of doing secret casting.”
In the end, all that can be said for sure is that characters such as Gandalf, Elrond and Gollum appear in both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and it's unthinkable (but nonetheless wishful) that anyone other than Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis would take on these roles.
As with Guillermo del Toro’s comments back in November, Jackson’s comments here remind me that the project has always been in the best hands: while my reservations about Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies are on record, there’s no denying that his trilogy is a masterpiece of modern cinema and it’s clear that there’s a commitment from the team to creating a solid script, which is the foundation of any great movie.
Thanks to Moviefone for the interview with Jackson. Apparently a longer version will be published on Monday.
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