Mike Fleming

peterjackson-9Here’s a glimmer of hope for those die-hard fans of The Lord of the Rings (like me) who hope that Peter Jackson will realize the best director for The Hobbit is the one he sees in the mirror each morning. My sources say that nobody has been offered the helming job — yet. Instead, Warner Bros and MGM brass are doing all they can to sell Jackson on the seemingly obvious notion that he should complete the franchise he started with three LOTR films that grossed $2.9 billion worldwide.  Particularly since he co-wrote the scripts for the two Hobbit movies and already is producing and can shoot both in his backyard. One of the rumored reasons that prompted one-time director Guillermo del Toro’s recent exit, I hear, was the prospect of transplanting his family to New Zealand, where Jackson has his visual effects factory and is so comfortable shooting. Warner Bros and MGM braintrust will keep pursuing him until Jackson gives a definitive no.

Other filmmakers are interested in replacing del Toro. Sources tell me David Yates, David Dobkin, and the ubiquitous Brett Ratner are among them. One tricky part of the equation is the deal numbers. So much gross already has been committed on the picture that there isn’t much left to give to a top-level director. Sources tell me that gross participants include the JRR Tolkien estate, Jackson, Saul Zaentz, even Harvey Weinstein, who bargained for a 5% gross stake in the original trilogy. (That happened when Michael Eisner refused to finance two LOTR films, and Weinstein gave Jackson a short turnaround window to shop the property. Jackson made the trilogy deal with Bob Shaye at New Line right before that turnaround window closed). No matter who gets the gig, they’ll have to accept a creative deal or the financing studios will be hard pressed to make money.