The Hobbit


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Hurm, as a big Del Toro fan, who could not care less about the LOTR movies, I'm actually pretty happy that the dude won't be tied up for the next six years. But shame for the franchise. Rumors of guys replacing him are Sam Raimi and Neill Blomkamp. I'm a big fan of both guys, though Raimi has really waned since about Spider-Man 2. I'd like to see Blomkamp get some more small films under his belt before trying to tackle something this huge.

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It looks like Peter Jackson might direct the two "Hobbit" movies after all.

Jackson is in negotiations to helm the films, which were left without a captain after Guillermo del Toro parted ways on May 30. Obstacles to a deal remain, including agreeing on a schedule that will allow Jackson to fast-track the films for release in 2012 and 2013, but insiders are cautiously optimistic that a pact can be worked out.

Talks, which have been going on for a week or two, heated up in recent days between Warner Bros./New Line and Jackson's team. Complications include the shaky financial situation of partner MGM, which owns the "Hobbit" rights and could hold up the production timetable. A significant delay would be a dealbreaker for Jackson.

Del Toro left the project over similar timing concerns. His move caught observers by surprise because the filmmaker had devoted so much time to work with Jackson drawing up plans for the movies, and working on the script with Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boyens. He moved his family to New Zealand. Casting was even in the early stages.

But since his departure, Warners/New Line, which runs point on the production over partner MGM, never did a full-on search for a director, even as some names surfaced as possible contenders. Why? Because Warners/New Line was trying to woo Jackson back to Middle-earth.

Jackson has other commitments -- the director has been working on secret projects -- and wasn't sure he wanted to devote another chunk of his life to the tales of J.R.R. Tolkien. But because of the complicated nature and the advanced stage of the undertaking -- Middle-earth was being built from the ground up when del Toro left so unexpectedly -- it wasn't simply filling a chair with a warm body.

To Warners/New Line, Jackson is the most logical choice not only because he made the "Lord of the Rings" movies but also because he is deeply involved as a producer on the "Hobbit" films.

Insiders say the next few days will be crucial in the negotiating process between Jackson's camp and the Warners/New Line side.


Fingers are crossed.

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New Line Cinema has announced part of the cast of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, confirming Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in the two-movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famed fantasy novel.

“Despite the various rumors and speculation surrounding this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us,” Jackson said in the press release. “There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave — exactly like Bilbo, and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.”

Freeman (The Office, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) will be joined by a company of dwarves composed, in part, of: Richard Armitage (MI-5, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarves; Aiden Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) as Thorin’s nephews Kili and Fili; Graham McTavish (Secretariat, 24) as Dwalin; John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury) as Oin; Stephen Hunter (All Saints) as Bombur; Mark Hadlow (King Kong) as Dori; and Peter Hambleton (The Strip) as Gloin.

That’s only eight dwarves, so expect five more names to fill out Thorin’s company. The press release also doesn’t mention Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis, who are expected to reprise their Lord of the Rings roles as Gandalf and Gollum. Absent, too, is Hugo Weaving as Elrond, as well as characters like Beorn and Bard the Bowman. Presumably we’ll see more announcements in the weeks to come.

Casting, however, may be the least of The Hobbit‘s worries Although the $400-million project finally received a greenlight last week, Warner Bros. is still threatening to move production out of New Zealand following a union boycott.


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Sylvester McCoy has told fans he has been cast as Radagast the Brown in the upcoming film The Hobbit.

Rumours of the Seventh Doctor's involvement in the Peter Jackson film have been around for a while but this is the first conformation from the actor that he has been offered a role in the movie.

McCoy was speaking at the Armageddon Expo in Auckland yesterday, It is understood that McCoy had meetings in Wellington with Jackson and co-producer and co-writer Philippa Boyens last week, where he was offered the role, but that no contracts have yet been signed.

The Hobbit is slated for release in two parts, the first due in 2012. Production is currently delayed due to a dispute involving the New Zealand branch of Actors Equity.


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