Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some Early "Hobbit" Movie News

Back when it was news, I was disappointed to learn Peter Jackson would forego the chance to direct both "The Hobbbit" (and a second, as-of-yet untitled film that will connect "The Hobbit" and LOTR), and opt instead to produce a Guillermo Del Toro-directed version of Tolkein's children's story. Sigh.

Now Guillermo's not bad. He directed the more-than-decent "Hellboy," as well as the critically-lauded (but way overrated) "Pan's Labyrinth," so odds are he's not going to mess this thing up. But as a film geek and "LOTR" fanboy, you can't help but wish Jackson would return to the director's chair to give all five movies a kind of directorial consistency. If it ain't broke and all that. Anyway. It is what it is, and though Jackson's sitting this one out, I'm definitely interested to see the Guillermo and WETA come up with.

To that end, Guillermo and Peter Jackson recently did a webchat where they answered 20 questions from readers about the upcoming production. Some of the questions are from fans who aren't well-versed in the ins and outs of filmmaking (like the fan who asked Guillermo and Jackson, before a word of script has been written, if there would be an extended version of the movies a la LOTR), but there are some interesting tidbits about who's returning, how the creative team's going to work, and when we might expect these movies to hit theaters. But in light of the high phony-quotient in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," I thought this exchange was interesting:

WetaHost 20 - Will you be doing less location shooting this time because your set builders, digital effects teams etc have become so proficient?
Peter Jackson Middle-earth is location, with very few structures really. It's a natural countryside and that's where a lot of shooting will take place.
Guillermo del Toro Location will be favored and real set construction.
Guillermo del Toro I love REAL set construction and think that sets are very important part of the storytelling and scope of a film...

Real people doing actual things in real places. How novel. So that's heartening. But this is not a near-term thing by any stretch. Here's what they said about their schedule for production:
Dear Jesslyn - at this point in time the plan is to write for the rest of this year and start early conceptual designs. 2009 will be dedicated to pre-production on both movies and 2010 will be the year we shoot both films back to back. Post productin follows one film at a time with The Hobbit being released Dec 2011, and F2 release Dec 2012. That is the schedule in about as much detail as we have ourselves at the moment.
So about 3 years before we can buy a ticket to the first one, and 4 before the second. Jackson and New Line took their time with LOTR, so the fact they're taking it slow with these two new movies is encouraging.

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