One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all in and New Zealand to bind them. That last part seems to be the sticking point in finding a director to take over helming duties on The Hobbit, which recently lost Guillermo Del Toro due to relocation issues. Other directors are willing to make the trip -- David Dobkin (Fred Claus), Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 1-3) and David Yates (three Harry Potter films) -- but two of those directors are awful. Besides, Warner Bros. and MGM both want Peter Jackson, the original man with the plan who made the Lord of the Rings trilogy into an Oscar-winning blockbuster. Jackson is holding out, citing prior commitments, but he also doesn't want to see the movie fail, or he loses money on the deal. To help him make a decision, we've put together a list of pros and cons for why he should or shouldn't take the job.
The fellowship that led to Middle Earth success is officially coming back to Hobbiton. No, that other fellowship. As Variety reports, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have signed on to collaborate on The Hobbit and its sequel with director and my favorite matador, Guillermo del Toro. The wonder-writers of the immensely successful (and totally awesome) The Lord of the Rings trilogy will finish telling the rest of J.R.R. Tolkien's story before del Toro takes the reigns on directing the two films back-to-back. (Filming starts next year.)
Lots of casting goodies have come out since yesterday. Like Oliver Twist looking for another helping of sweet, sweet gruel, step on up with your bowl in hand and get ready to feast on these:
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Amanda Peet has joined the cast of Roland Emmerich's 2012. She'll play the ex-wife to John Cusack's struggling writer. They, along with a few other survivors, will face the end of the world together--she with her new rich husband, he with a particularly chilly rejection letter from The New Yorker. Peet should feel right at home in this one, as there were probably many times during her stint on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip when she felt like she was waiting for the apocalypse.
Well, this isn't good. It seems that the start of The Hobbit has been delayed for so long in its search for a director that it's starting to affect the talent's schedules. Luckily, all of the talent is debatably replaceable, with one glaring exception: Ian McKellen, who absolutely must play Gandalf the Grey. Or must he? McKellen has a potential scheduling conflict and may have to drop out, which sounds devastating, but while Gandalf does not age as men do, and should therefore look more or less the same as he does 60 years later (when The Fellowship of the Ring occurs), isn't a little creative license a good thing? Couldn't a new Gandalf help to differentiate these films from the original trilogy? Nobody wants to see McKellen replaced, but it's better than another delay or even the death of the film, so here are some suggestions for actors to play the original sorcerer supreme.
Now that director Guillermo Del Toro is no longer directing The Hobbit, a mad search is on to find the new director, both by the studio and by the press, who have thrown out the names of every geek-friendly genre director from Abrams to Raimi. But why does the director have to be known for the fantasy and sci-fi genre? After all, the last three directors of the Harry Potter franchise were virtual strangers to the fantasy film world before they signed on to their installments, and they've been incredibly successful, each with their own distinctive voice. While we aren't going to scour the film festivals to find the next Peter Jackson, there are plenty of established directors who aren't known for swords and sorcery, but might be willing to tackle such an important work of literature.
I don't think anyone would call Guillermo del Toro a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kind of guy. He's definitely a planner. So much of one, in fact, that his professional calendar is booked through 2017. Currently -- and for the next five years -- knee-deep in The Hobbit, del Toro signed a three-year first-look deal with Universal in June of last year that will pick up after the epic New Line/Miramax project is finished.
Fanboys rejoice! Sir Ian McKellan (that's Magneto to you) is reprising his role as Gandalf in Guillermo Del Toro's Hobbit Part One and Hobbit Part Deux. Reuters quotes McKellan as saying " I spoke to Guillermo in the very room that Peter Jackson offered me the part and he confirmed that I would be reprising the role. Obviously, it's not a part that you turn down, I loved playing Gandalf." If memory serves me correctly, McKellan's Gandalf, Ian Holm's Bilbo Baggins and Andy Serkis' CGI Gollum characters are the only ones that overlap with the Lord of the Rings. This means those of you waiting for that super hot liquor-filled love scene between Samwise and Frodo will have to instead scour the Internet for that fanboy fiction that turns Mount Doom into Brokeback Mountain. Those Hobbits, they know how to par-tay!
Hopefully, del Toro will do a better job than Rankin and Bass with the material. Their animated Hobbit, which far too many of my schoolmates watched in lieu of reading the assigned book, isn't exactly terrible. It's what you'd expect from the guys who gave us a Baby New Year whose big ears rival Will Smith's and Barack Obama's. But if del Toro is so dedicated that he's moving to New Zealand for four years to work on the films with producer Peter Jackson, one can hope that level of dedication equals quality filmmaking. We'll know in 2010 when the first film comes out.
Speaking of which, why are there two movies in the first place? The Hobbit isn't that big a book, and its story doesn't seem equipped to be spread over two films. Is this greed on the part of the filmmakers? Perhaps New Line can do a cross-pollination of Warner Bros. franchises, and reveal in the two part film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that Gandalf and Dumbledore knew each other in the Biblical sense. I'm being facetious and silly, but I really do mean the next line you're about to read. If they don't include Leonard Nimoy's horrific "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" on the Hobbit soundtrack, I ain't going to see it.