It now looks like Peter Jackson will direct the two-part adaptation of The Hobbit after all. Deadline Hollywood reports that the modern master of Middle-earth, who brought the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien novel The Lord of the Rings to the big screen in 2001 as writer, producer and director, is in talks to pull out of other projects so he can salvage the production of its prequel.
Earlier this month Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro quit as director over delays he attributed to corporate backers MGM and New Line Cinema.
The Hobbit was already off to a late start after a dispute between New Line and the Tolkien estate, which was prepared to derail “The Hobbit” over money it was owed from the previous Middle-earth productions. Along with publisher HarperCollins, the author’s heirs sued New Line Cinema for profits from the 2001-03 movies, pledging to do whatever necessary to protects its rights, up to and including the revocation of the studio’s licensing rights. They settled out of court, reaching an agreement that cleared the way for the new movies and secured a vast amount for the Tolkien Trust charity in the U.K.
Casting is still under way. Sir Ian McKellen, the Shakespearean actor who played the wizard Gandalf in the previous film trilogy, will be reprising his role, but further casting has not been announced.