Awesome Christmas present from Time Warner and Peter Jackson: The “Lord Of The Rings” director has settled a nasty lawsuit with TWX’s New Line studio, and has agreed to make* not one but two movies based on the “The Hobbit”. No idea what it cost New Line to make Jackson happy, but presumably it involves big heaps of money, which should be well worth it, given that the LOTR franchise generated $2.9 billion at the box office alone.
Other beneficiaries: MGM, which will co-produce the two movies, and Sony (SNE), which owns a piece of MGM. “The Hobbit” is scheduled for a 2010 release, with a sequel planned for 2011.
*The major “but” here: Note that Jackson has signed on as producer, not director, of the two films. No word on who’s handling directing duties.
Press release excerpts:
Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson; Harry Sloan, Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.; Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs of New Line Cinema have jointly announced today that they have entered into the following series of agreements:
<br /> -- MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute two films, "The<br /> Hobbit" and a sequel to "The Hobbit." New Line will distribute in<br /> North America and MGM will distribute internationally.<br /> -- Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as Executive Producers of two<br /> films based on "The Hobbit." New Line will manage the production of<br /> the films, which will be shot simultaneously.<br /> -- Peter Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation relating to the<br /> "Lord of the Rings" (LOTR) Trilogy.<br /><br />Said Peter Jackson, "I'm very pleased that we've been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line. 'The Lord of the Rings' is a legacy we proudly share with Bob and Michael, and together, we share that legacy with millions of loyal fans all over the world. We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth. I also want to thank Harry Sloan and our new friends at MGM for helping us find the common ground necessary to continue that journey."
The two “Hobbit” films — “The Hobbit” and its sequel — are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of “The Hobbit” release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.