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‘The Hobbit’ Finally Filming In February, But Peter Jackson & Actor Unions Still At Odds

UPDATE: Things must be getting close on The Hobbit, because casting buzz is getting strong in Hollywood. Word is Martin Freeman will soon be set to play Bilbo Baggins, that Jimmy Nesbitt has been offered a role and that Michael Fassbender is being pursued for another as is David Tennant. Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are expected to reprise Gandalf and Gollum.

EARLIER: While it looks like production on The Hobbit is set to start in February on the pair of films directed by Peter Jackson, there are still a few giant issues standing in the way. The films had to go in early 2011 to make the holiday release date. But even though the production schedule looks locked, there’s still the issue of the loud labor fight happening between Jackson and the unions, which have told performers outright not to work on the film because it’s a non-union production. By agreeing to a detente, the films would indeed get underway in New Zealand in early 2011. The delay has also been caused by all the ongoing problems at MGM, and just this week Lionsgate put forth a merger recommendation which Carl Icahn backs. That would obviously affect the pending Spyglass deal  – and add more drama to any major production going forward. (Meanwhile, while MGM goes through all of its tumult, Mary Parent is expectedly in the process of leaving the studio, which she has run for almost three years.) Read More »

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Can ‘The Hobbit’ Wait For MGM Decisions?

Mike Fleming

MgmlogosmallEXCLUSIVE: My recent scoop that Peter Jackson is negotiating to direct the two installments of The Hobbit is probably the best news for debt-laden MGM in years. But the development has put extra pressures on the beleaguered studio backers. Because making a 2-picture directing deal with the Lord Of The Rings director is no easy feat. I’m told that 30% of the gross is already committed to various participants, including Jackson (just for writing and producing!). peterjackson-9He and Fran Walsh don’t work cheap, and they once got $20 million against 20% of gross from Universal to direct King Kong (Jackson, who can’t get enough of Kong and just oversaw the renovation of the ape attraction on the Universal backlot). Insiders tell me that gross participants are right now being asked to make adjustments so that MGM and its partner, Warner Bros, can finance the film and make money. Creative deals are becoming routine on sequels like Men in Black, but they aren’t easy. There’s no certainty that MGM creditors will respond to the urgency that Jackson’s reps are ready to make a deal. Read More »

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