Right now, the smell of sulfuric residue from Gandalf's celebratory fireworks still linger all over the Shire. Yes, at this point, you've certainly heard the good news that after years of copyright drama and general bad luck of every kind, the announcement finally came just before the weekend that The Hobbit was finally greenlit and that shooting will begin in February. We're not just talking about rumors or some of-the-wall tweet taken out of context, this the real deal, and it has been officially confirmed via a press release from Warner whose child company New Line Cinema will be managing the project with the soon-to-be-rescued MGM. We're on the cusp of what will surely be a barrage of news about this most anticipated of productions. In fact, in the aftermath of the big announcement, some casting news has already hit. Let's take a look at where we are in the grand scheme of things with The Hobbit.
Peter Jackson IS Directing:
Not that we didn't already know this, as all the signs seemed to point to it after Guillermo del Toro's departure from the director's chair. However, the release by Warner has now set the idea in stone by officially referring to The Hobbit as being "under the direction of Peter Jackson."
"The Band" is Officially Back Together:
The trio of Jackson, along with wife Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens were the creative dream team that devoted the passion and countless hours of source material research to make the Lord of the Rings trilogy the masterpieces they became. Jackson being back at the helm makes the old formula complete once again. With Guillermo del Toro's contributions still living on through his involvement in the script, it's clearly a recipe for yet another awe-inspiring masterpiece. According to Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer of New Line:
“There is no human being on the planet as qualified as Peter Jackson to direct these films,” said Horn. “Peter is incredibly talented and has the creative vision and experience to bring this beloved property to life in a way that no other filmmaker could. And the team of Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens has proven through their work on the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy that no one is more skilled at transforming Tolkien's written words into a vibrant, living language that makes the audience believe they are not merely visiting Middle-earth but actually living in it. We couldn’t be more thrilled and look forward to seeing ‘The Hobbit’ take shape under Peter’s stewardship and the team he is putting together.”
Yup, It's in 3D:
Earlier in the year, it seemed that then-director Guillermo del Toro had to shoot down the idea that The Hobbit would film in 3D. While this was no doubt due in large part to budget concerns along with all the other things that made it difficult to get off the ground, Peter Jackson has said in the past that it was also due to del Toro's desire to shoot the film in old-fashioned 35mm film. Though del Toro seemed to loosen up on the idea of 3D in later interviews, it's likely that the studios were gunning for 3D, regardless. According to the press release:
"Both Hobbit movies will be filmed in Digital 3-D, using the latest camera and stereo technology to create a high quality, comfortable viewing experience."
It seems that no expense will be sparred with this process. And frankly, why not? This film already has a $500 million price tag attached, and will likely surpass even the obscenely-monstrous budget of James Cameron's Avatar. While this film will hardly be the gamble that Avatar was, at this point, despite the rabid interest from fans and casual moviegoers, it's going to need all the help it can get to financially justify all the headaches it has caused over the years.
Martin Freeman is Looking A Lock; Others Named:
The star of UK's original version of The Office and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has been the subject of fan dream-casting in the role of main character Bilbo Baggins for years. In a recent interview, Freeman stated that commitments would leave him unable to take the role. However, both New Line and MGM were apparently so enthusiastic about him, they offered to revise the shooting schedule around him. While no official news has come regarding how that offer went, Deadline is reporting that "casting buzz is getting strong" about the prospect of Freeman, the man who was seemingly born to play Bilbo Baggins to fulfil that destiny.
Additionally, the other names listed as being offered roles include the fan-favored former Dr. Who, David Tennant, the upcoming X-Men: First Class' young Magneto, Michael Fassbender, and veteran Irish actor James Nesbitt. With Ian McKellan, Hugo Weaving, and Andy Serkis all safe bets for a return to their respective roles of Gandalf, Elrond, and Gollum (also with a rumored book-anachronistic cameo from Cate Blanchett's Galadriel) we're already looking at a solid cast, just a scant few days after the greenlight.
With the first of the two films set to be in theaters by December 2012 (Dec. 2013 for Part 2,) this production, which has had over seven years since the last part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy bowed, will ironically be a mad scramble to the finish.
Jackson used to say that the reason he declined to direct The Hobbit at first was because he was afraid he would find himself competing against his own work. Indeed, expectations will no doubt be off-the-charts. So, what are your expectations from the upcoming epic, which will now be in 3D?
Source: Press Release