There, but not back again for Peter Jackson

Wanted: feature film director to start immediately. Must have affinity with small dwarfish beings, taste for epic landscape, and ability to generate more than $300-million at the box office. Pointy ears not necessary.
Beard optional.

Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the multiple Oscar-winning box-office leviathan, has revealed that he will not be making the next film based on the JRR Tolkien series, The Hobbit, after receiving a telephone call from a Hollywood studio executive.

In a letter to a Tolkien website, Jackson and his producing and writing partner Fran Walsh said that they had received a call from an executive at New Line, the studio behind the three films, telling them that their services would not be required on either The Hobbit or a planned prequel to the original trilogy.

“This was a courtesy call to let us know that the studio was now actively looking to hire another filmmaker for both projects,” the filmmakers wrote in a letter to “This outcome is not what we anticipated or wanted, but neither do we see any positive value in bitterness and rancour. We now have no choice but to let the idea of a film of The Hobbit go and move forward with other projects.”

Jackson and Walsh ended their letter by paraphrasing the subtitle to The Hobbit: “We got to go there—but not back again.”

The development brings to an end one of the most successful partnerships in film history, and will prompt unbridled speculation about the new director’s identity.

Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy has generated almost $3-billion at the box office worldwide since the release of the first instalment, the Fellowship of the Ring, almost five years ago. The final part of the trilogy, The Return of the King<, garnered just over $1,1-billion at the box office, making it the second most lucrative film on record.

The filmmakers said that New Line had decided to look for another director because of a financial dispute between the two parties. Jackson’s production company sued New Line earlier this year, arguing that it had not received its share of the income from the films. “We have always said that we do not want to discuss The Hobbit with New Line until the lawsuit over New Line’s accounting practices is resolved,” the filmmakers wrote. New Line, however, has a “limited time option” on the film rights to The Hobbit “and because we won’t discuss making the movies until the lawsuit is resolved, the studio is going to have to hire another director”.

Noting that just a few months ago MGM, which also owns part of the rights to The Hobbit, had publicly stated that Jackson would be making the film, the letter said that there was even a meeting arranged to discuss the project.

“We’ve always assumed that we would be asked to make The Hobbit and possibly this second film,” the filmmakers wrote.

New Line refused to comment. - Guardian Unlimited Â

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