The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson was recently interviewed my MovieFone and he gave a few updates on The Hobbit, along with clearing up a few details regarding the films start date. Last month Ian McKellen said filming was set to begin in July, however whether that is the case depends on MGM who hold distribution rights to the films, and nothing can happen until the studio have sorted out their financial situation.
The director, who will be producing this time round, also spoke about casting Bilbo Baggins, the return of a few familiar faces, and recently handing in both scripts to the studio.
On talks of delays:
Well, it’s not really been delayed, because we’ve never announced the date. I mean it’s sort of interesting because the studio [MGM] has never greenlit ‘The Hobbit,’ so therefore ‘The Hobbit’ has never been officially announced as a “go” project, nor have we ever announced a date. But there’s so much interest that people — newspapers and magazines, of their own account, say, ah, it’s likely to film in May, it’s likely to film in June, it’s likely to film in September. People make this stuff up. And then if it’s not filming in June, you get a story saying, “‘The Hobbit’s’ been delayed.” But it’s never actually been announced.
On handing in completed drafts of the scripts:
We’ve just delivered the script. Literally last week, we delivered the second of the two screenplays — the first draft. So the studio’s got both scripts now, which is a milestone; and if anything was holding it up, it was us doing the screenplays, because we’d just been writing as fast as we can, but it took us this long to get them finished. So we take whatever responsibility there is for the speed. And we’re now in the process of budgeting the films, and then hopefully we’ll get to a budget the studio [people] are happy with, and they’ll greenlight the movies and we’ll announce the shooting dates. I’d be pretty optimistic that we’ll be shooting before the end of the year. I would imagine October, November, we’d be shooting by. I’m not announcing it, though.
We haven’t signed any actors up yet, because we couldn’t do that until they greenlight the movie. But I would imagine that if we get a green light within the next month or two, we would be hopefully making some casting announcements by, I guess, the middle of the year. We’ve done a little bit of auditioning, but we haven’t really done any meetings with actors or anything yet. We’ve just been totally committed to the scripts. Everything’s a little bit later than what people assume it is. I think people think we’ve been sort of doing secret casting.
And finally, on cast members from the original trilogy returning:
No, there’s no definite … I mean, any character that’s returning from ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ we obviously would love the same actors to play. But even those actors haven’t been approached yet, or there [haven’t] been any deals done. And the studio wouldn’t organically do any of that until they’ve greenlit the film.
I, like many people, have no worries regarding the creative team behind these two Hobbit movies. Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro along with fellow writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens know more about Middle Earth than I do about my own face. The only issue is MGM who can’t give them a green light until they either find a buyer or someone lends them $500+ million so that they can stay in business and produce The Hobbit movies along with Bond. Anyone have half a billion sitting in their bank account and are willing to cough up so we can speed this process up?