I’ve made no secret of my love for Peter Jackson’ Lord of the Rings movies, and in my recent review of the Blu-ray set, I confessed to not being a big fan of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. I’ve never read The Hobbit – when I finally got around to reading Tolkien, I went right to the Rings trilogy, as I always understood The Hobbit to be more of a kids’ book, and I was more interested in the epic scale of the trilogy – and I was pretty lukewarm on the idea of making a Hobbit movie, a smaller-scale prequel to The Lord of the Rings. That was until it was announced that Guillermo del Toro was directing The Hobbit, and that it would be made as two films, one more or less adapting the book, and the second acting as a “bridge film” between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, incorporating elements from Tolkien’s many detailed histories of Middle Earth. Suddenly I was interested in The Hobbit.
The thing is, the Hobbit movie is unfortunately wrapped up in the slow collapse of movie studio MGM, and neither Guillermo del Toro nor producer Peter Jackson have stated when The Hobbit is expected to start production (del Toro’s been in New Zealand working on preproduction for like a year), leading to much speculation of “delays,” which Jackson recently debunked by pointing out that there was never an announced start date, therefore there can be no actual delay. But the news just came down that Warner Bros. has scheduled The Hobbit to hit theaters in December 2012 and December 2013 (which is how New Line released the Lord of the Rings movies). I guess part of the problem was that 2011 was originally the target date for the first Hobbit movie when the project was first announced back in 2007, but it’s now looking pretty unrealistic. (While del Toro is using a lot of the same design elements and behind-the-scenes folks who worked on the Rings movies, which cuts preproduction time, it still took Jackson and company the better part of a decade to make those three films, so adapting Tolkien isn’t something you can really rush through to hit an arbitrary release date – which is what Hollywood usually does with big movies.)
So mark it on your calendars, folks. The Hobbit is coming to a theater near you beginning December 2012.
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In news that I don’t really care about, but is sort of a big deal nonetheless, Dreamgirls director Bill Condon has signed on to helm Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final film in the Twilight series. I know nothing of Twilight other than the bits I’ve gleaned from snippets of the first movie I’ve flipped past on the movie channel up here, and I’ll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I try to read one of the books, but I hear the final book is utterly insane. It sounds like Summit Entertainment had been looking for a “name” director for the final film in the franchise – which may still be divided into two films to keep the gravy train running just that much longer – and Condon fits the bill. I’m not really that familiar with Condon’s previous movies, but he’s certainly classing up the Twilight franchise, and from what I’ve seen of this low-rent, high-yield teeny-bobber vampire series, they could use a filmmaker capable of making a movie that doesn’t look like a mediocre episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Good luck to you Bill, but I suspect I won’t be going to see your Twilight film.