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Tolkien Enterprises To Film Hobbit With Jackson? 152

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the rumors-keep-milling dept.
cyclomedia writes "TheOneRing.Net has a new scoop on the ongoing Hobbit Movie saga, sourced from elbenwald.de. Apparently the rights to make the Hobbit film fall back to Saul Zaentz 'next year.' He claims that, under their stewardship, The Hobbit will 'definitely be shot by Peter Jackson.' For the whippersnappers amongst you: Mr. Zaentz is the head honcho of Tolkien Enterprises, which originally acquired exclusive rights to productions of the LOTR and Hobbit material in 1976, prior to overseeing the Bakshi animated version of LOTR."
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Tolkien Enterprises To Film Hobbit With Jackson?

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  • Tolkein? (Score:3, Funny)

    by pugdk (697845) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:15AM (#16963922) Homepage
    Who is this Tolkein you are talking about?
  • by Xest (935314) * on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:19AM (#16963942)
    I guess this is perhaps why New Line didn't want to hang around for Jackson any longer and why they sounded in such a rush to get it started in their statements?

    How does film licensing work, if New Line doesn't finish the film by the time Tolkien enterprises gets the license back are they allowed to publish it still or do they lose all rights to it?
    • by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:31AM (#16964014)
      I guess this is perhaps why New Line didn't want to hang around for Jackson any longer
      I think its more Jackson not being prepared to work with New Line again given he had to sue them for his royalties. Trying to stiff the person who created a cash cow for you is not exactly conducive to a harmonious working relationship.
      • by Cruise_WD (410599) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:58AM (#16964174) Homepage
        It never ceases to amaze me when people are so incredibly short-sighted. Given that Peter Jackson created a trilogy that was /hugely/ successful, and that the vast majority of people associate his name with the films rather than New Line (I could not have told you the film company associated with LotR [or any film, for that matter] had you asked), what makes more sense:

        1) "Let's try and screw him for his royalties, but in the process piss him off so he'll never work for us again."

        or

        2) "Let's be really nice to him so he'll keep making these financially successful films for us."

        How far up your arse does head need to be for 1) to see like the best option?
        • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @10:11AM (#16964242)
          "Let's be really nice to him so he'll keep making these financially successful films for us."

                But, but, after you account for all the 5 star hotels, first class air tickets, german cars, party girls and cocaine, the film actually lost money! "What - you mean we have to buy our OWN coke?" - A random New Line executive
        • They're movie executives. The guys who got together and founded the MPAA and choose its policies and staff. Were you expecting them to be nice people? Seriously.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by kimvette (919543)
            Were you expecting them to be nice people?


            They tell us all the time that they are nice, and that they are striving hard to protect the starving artists who put in a ton of work to produce these films. Are you implying that this is not true and that the MPAA is not made up of nice people? OH NOES tell me it ain't so!!! I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that you would make such allegations! ;)
        • by ronanbear (924575) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @10:15AM (#16964280)
          It's pretty standard in the film industry. New Line took huge risks by funding 3 movies at once but they also made a lot more money. It was a complicated deal that created opportunities to fiddle the books. They didn't just stiff Jackson though. Tolkien Enterprises also sued New Line http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolkien_Enterprises [wikipedia.org] for $20m.

          The details of the deal aren't too well known. In fact Jackson wasn't aware until recently that the rights would expire at all. It's hard to speculate but it appears that New Line still have time to make the Hobbit and the deal should cover some overrun so that work can still continue on an unfinished project.

          After that the rights revert to Tolkien Enterprises so unless there's a clause in the contract that stops Tolkien Enterprises from reshooting the Hobbit immediately it's entirely possible that Jackson could make another version within a year or two (or within months if they were to write the script and do preproduction before they acquire the rights).

          A New Line Hobbit film is likely to be profitable so there's a good chance they might try that and hope that Jackson doesn't want to take the risk to compete with a later attempt.
          • by geobeck (924637) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @10:53AM (#16964536) Homepage

            it appears that New Line still have time to make the Hobbit...it's entirely possible that Jackson could make another version within a year or two...

            Given this development, it's more likely that New Line will scrap their version unless they are really shortsighted (which is entirely possible). It's kind of like trying to sell a mediocre 1.2 release of a product when everyone is buzzing about the far superior 2.0 release just ahead.

            And with the size of the official LOTR fan club, the fact that New Line has much more marketing muscle won't matter as much; word of mouth will be huge in advertising "Peter and the Ring V2.0".

          • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @10:54AM (#16964538) Homepage
            http://www.rottentomatoes.com/news/comments/?entry id=381433 [rottentomatoes.com]

            Looks like Tolkien Enterprises isn't the only one who wants to let Jackson do the job.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by somersault (912633)
              Hmm.. Hobbit 'films', eh? Well I do like long movies, but it's obvious they're just doing it to cash in (yeah yeah they're a company who aim to make money, but I read the Hobbit in a day when I was 9..) :/
              • by smoker2 (750216)
                How many hours in your day, and how many hours do you want to sit in a crappy cinema ?

                FWIW, I speed-read LOTR in 3 days (after school - before bed, say 4 hours a day) when I was about 12 or 13. I had already read it five or six times previously though.

                • Yeah I'd already read the Hobbit before as well, think it was maybe 5 hours I read it in. I read the first 4 Harry Potter books in 3 or 4 days (yes, I enjoyed them ;) ) a few years ago during a holiday. I don't really do 'speed reading' but I'm not slow either :]

                  I don't mind going to the cinema a couple of times a week as long as there's something good on. Spiderman 3 is my next must-see film, no clue when it comes out though..
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ubernostrum (219442)

            A New Line Hobbit film is likely to be profitable so there's a good chance they might try that and hope that Jackson doesn't want to take the risk to compete with a later attempt.

            Except, in a classic case of overly-complex intellectual property laws, New Line doesn't own distribution rights to The Hobbit. MGM does. Which means New Line could make the film, they just couldn't send it out to any theaters without MGM's permission. And MGM is saying [variety.com] that "the matter of Peter Jackson directing 'The Hobbit'

        • by lawpoop (604919)
          "2) "Let's be really nice to him so he'll keep making these financially successful films for us.""

          It's not that simple. There's no guarantee that he can continue to make successful films. If you look at the career of any "great" director (except for a few luminaries), you will find hit, flop, flop, hit, hit, flop, flop, hit, etc. Even if they made what is considered a classic film, it may have lost money or not been very successful at the box office.

          So yes, continuing to work with Peter Jackson is still
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by rochrist (844809)
            It's not that simple. There's no guarantee that he can continue to make successful films. If you look at the career of any "great" director (except for a few luminaries), you will find hit, flop, flop, hit, hit, flop, flop, hit, etc. Even if they made what is considered a classic film, it may have lost money or not been very successful at the box office.

            So yes, continuing to work with Peter Jackson is still a big risk. Case in point: King Kong. Which pulled in 550 million from the theatrical release al
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by lawpoop (604919)
              Yes. Now that Peter Jackson has gotten the taste for budgets in the hundreds of millions, and the artistic vision of 3-hour epics, it's only possible that he can create hits. There's no more chance of risk there. It's money in the bank.
        • Lately I've begun to wonder...

          when will these people have enough money? Particularly, is $50m more really worth having a crappy "The Hobbit" movie? If I already had $300m, I'd be more interested in securing rights for the BETTER PRODUCER than the one that can bring me more money. Serenity/Firefly is the perfect example of this IMO. If you have all that money, what do you do with it if there's nothing fun worth buying?
      • Congratulations to New Line, they've done what I had previously considered impossible; they've made me cheer for Sal Zaentz.

        Maybe there's still hope: Maybe they both can lose.

        Background here [wikipedia.org].

      • "Trying to stiff the person who created a cash cow for you is not exactly conducive to a harmonious working relationship."

        It makes me think of what Sierra did with Valve (Half Life games). After Valve made the two hugely successful cash cows that are half life 1 and 2 Sierra decided to try to screw them. It went to court and in the end Valve won and then dumped Sierra for Electronics Arts. How stupid do you have to be to act like that with your successful business partners?

    • by Lissajous (989738) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:37AM (#16964044)
      Pretty much yeah - my guess is that even though New Line are legally entitled to make The Hobbit prior to the license revoking, given this news that PJ will film it with Tolkien Enterprises (assuming he confirms it, of course) will pretty much scupper that.
      After all, it's the Jackson/WETA name that would put bums on seats rather than the New Line name. I mean, which would you go to see? A rush-job put out so NL could monopolize on the license before it expired, or a piece where Jackson *and* Tolkien Enterprises paid the proper respect to the IP? Thanks for the offer of a Big Mac, but I don't want to ruin my appetite.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by somersault (912633)
        I'd probably just see both (have an unlimited cinema card for £113 a year, why not use it?), why not? Though since Newline are being such a bunch of selfish bastards by the sounds of things, I may just not watch it in protest... I don't see what's so great about the original LOTR movies that everyone adores Peter Jackson though? Was he the one that gutted the plot, removing and adding bits (bad)? Was he the one that wrote the music (pretty good)? Not that I've watched all the extended versions or read
        • by K8Fan (37875)
          ...have an unlimited cinema card for £113 a year, why not use it?

          I wish they'd introduce those in the USA. Is it an American chain that offers this? It would save me hundreds per year.

          • Nope, I live in the UK and it's Cineworld that do this (you have to pay something like £30 extra if you want all the London Cineworld theatres included too, but I live in Aberdeen so I don't need that :) ). There must be some equivalent in some places in america, surely?

            I think they expect to make money off of food, because since I don't have to pay for tickets anymore, I've been more tempted by the food even with its ridiculous pricing.. £4 for a little tub of ice-cream! :p
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by edwardpickman (965122)
      Depends on the original agreement. Generally you have to start production by a certain date. Sometimes there's extensions of rights based on filming a version. Corman was hired to make an unreleased version of Fantastic Four to extend the rights. It's intended to allow for sequels but they were able to use that provision to retain the rights as well.
    • by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:43AM (#16964080) Homepage Journal
      I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that "Tolkien Enterprises" hold the rights to the films (LOTR, Hobbit etc) and were paid by New Line in order to grant them a license to create them (evidently this would have been for a large sum of money and all of the films at once, rather than licensing each individual one at a time as it would have given either side a chance to renegotiate based on the success/failure of what was release). This deal would have been signed with a clause saying that it "ends" in X amount of years, so that Tolkien Enterprises take back the rights and can either produce it themselves or relicense it to another studio in the case of New Line not producing the film in time, putting it on the backburner or just deciding not to work on it for monetary/staff reasons (such as the dispute with Peter Jackson now).

      If New Line do not get production underway pretty soon, they risk the rights being taken away from them and I have a feeling that is the primary reason why they are making noise about moving on without Peter Jackson, because evidently they do not want to stop fighting the lawsuit but that is probably the only way it could happen any time soon. What they risk is the backlash that is beginning now, with stars such as Ian Mckellen expressing "dissapointment" at the Jackson scenario, I have a feeling that New Line will run into some problems getting a number of the actors and crew back on board without the man who practically 'made' the franchise what it is.
      • by 0123456 (636235)
        Not to mention that many of the fans will boycott a Hobbit movie that isn't made with Jackson's blessing, even if he isn't directing it. I don't see how it makes any sense for New Line to make a movie without him.

    • by Woldry (928749)
      if New Line doesn't finish the film by the time Tolkien enterprises gets the license back are they allowed to publish it still or do they lose all rights to it?

      Egad, I hope that's not how it works. If they haven't picked a director yet, and they're still going to try to film and release the thing within a year, it's going to be a rush job. Overall, I liked Jackson's take on LOTR, although I have some serious complaints (extraneous additions and tin-eared dialogue that would have made JRRT weep, making
      • I'd say that a large part of the reason for not putting Gimli in a more warrior role had a lot to do with the fact that they had to shoot all of his scenes seperately, and getting the shot of Rhys-Davies lined up perfectly with the shot of the other main characters *and* the CGI monsters would be difficult. And then you have the scenes where the monsters are actors and that becomes even harder because fight scenes are not easy to duplicate.

        I always found it kind of funny that the guy playing the dwarf was basically the biggest one in the movie. Besides, who says warriors can't also be something of a comic figure? After so many times of someone wanting to split your skull, it becomes something you start to have a bit of a sense of humor about - otherwise you crack =]
        • by ronanbear (924575)
          Rhys-Davies height put him in correct height proportion to the hobbit actors. This way any scene involving Gimli and the hobbits could be shot directly and it only took two settings for forced perspective to be used in all the scenes.

          The advantages in filming were significant but yeah it was ironic.
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      How does film licensing work, if New Line doesn't finish the film by the time Tolkien enterprises gets the license back are they allowed to publish it still or do they lose all rights to it?

      New Line has an "option". If they want to actually make the film, they have to pay (a lot) as specified in their option contract to exercise that option. Once they do that, they have a set time, probably several years, to produce and release the film before these rights expire. Otherwise, the option expires and it seem

  • by Rastignac (1014569) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:20AM (#16963956)
    Peter Jackson will write a book "If I Did It". He will also sing a reggae song "I shot the Hobbit" (featuring Gollum as a CGI Bob Marley).
  • by cronot (530669) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:27AM (#16963988)
    ... what all these guys have against the Hobbit? I mean, this Saul guy is hiring that thug Peter to have the Hobbit shot... That Hobbit should have banged his wife or something...
  • May I be the first to suggest that the props team make all the weaponry from Damascus steel http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/1 6/2348254 [slashdot.org]. That way they can join in the rest of us with the huge collective "w00tz" at this news!
  • They keep getting the same guy to direct. It's like a bad hobbit. Hope his elf holds up.
  • Stewardship (Score:5, Funny)

    by camperdave (969942) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:42AM (#16964076) Journal
    Well, if there's anything Return of the King taught us, it's the value of a good Steward.
  • by payndz (589033) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:52AM (#16964130)
    ...if New Line can *start* production before the date of expiry. I can think of two examples off the top of my head of movies which were rushed into production before the film rights expired - Roger Corman's version of The Fantastic Four (which admittedly was never released), and Queen Of The Damned - made by Warner Bros, who also own New Line. I'm sure there are others.

    Whether New Line would do this depends entirely on their prediction of profit vs loss. If they think enough people will go and see a Hobbit film even without Jackson for them to get a good enough return on investment, they could well rush a film into production, and let their lawyers handle Zaentz's objections.
    • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @10:06AM (#16964210)
      Whether New Line would do this depends entirely on their prediction of profit vs loss.

            Obviously they won't do it then, since apparently they lost so much money with LOtR...which is why they don't want to pay PJ in the first place...
      • by owlnation (858981)
        Movie accounting is an esoteric art. All movies lose money. Which is why you should never accept net points in you contract.

        Of course few movies actually lose money....
      • by jrumney (197329)
        I wonder if PJ could use Sarbanes Oxley [blogcritics.org] to have criminal charges brought against the executives at New Line? The article linked is about the music industry, but the accounting (mal)practices in both industries are the same.
    • I wouldn't go to see a Hobbit movie butchered and done by anyone else than PJ, at least not right now. There's no reason for anyone else to do this.
    • Whether New Line would do this depends entirely on their prediction of profit vs loss. If they think enough people will go and see a Hobbit film even without Jackson for them to get a good enough return on investment, they could well rush a film into production, and let their lawyers handle Zaentz's objections.

      Nope. There are more players involved in this: MGM, not New Line, owns the distribution rights, which means New Line could make the film but not distribute it. And thus far, MGM doesn't seem too

  • I dunno.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by srhoades (656176) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @10:11AM (#16964250)
    Tolkien, Hobbits, Elf's??? All of this sounds as if it has a bad ring to it.
  • by biscon (942763) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @10:17AM (#16964302)
    The books were written in the 30s and 40s. I thought they would be in the public domain by now?
    • At least in the US Copyright is 100 years after the death of the Author, it matters not when the books were written. Not sure about the UK, could probably wiki it, but I'm lazy ;)
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The Hobbit was first published September 21, 1937, nearly seventy years ago. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973. The EU/British term of copyright, updated in 1996, seems to be the author's life plus 70 years. Sometime in 2043, we should be able to enjoy Tolkien's works without restriction. This assumes that copyright law won't change in the interim, of course. . .
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by clacke (214199)
      The countdown doesn't start until the author dies, and Tolkien died in 1973.

      And given that Disney died in 1966, this means that the Tolkien copyright will never expire.
  • Just Me, My Elf, And Eye.
  • Now I really, really liked the LOTR movies a lot. "Braindead" was a hoot, and "Heavenly Creatures" was absolutely brilliant. But those are all films with a very different story and tone than "The Hobbit".

    So is Jackson really the best person to get for what is, after all, a "lighter" work? There are, after all, other directors who would probably do a great job with "The Hobbit", and maybe a better one too. (Brad Bird might be an interesting choice, f'rinstance.)

    (At this point, I had a great argument about ho
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @11:10AM (#16964702) Homepage Journal
    If Peter Jackson has anything to do with Saul Zaentz, he should take care. Zaentz treated a certain other Peter [greenmanreview.com] rather poorly in conjunction with the production of the Lord of the Rings animated film.
  • Samuel L. ? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Raynach (713366) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:58PM (#16965606) Homepage
    Was I the only person to think they were talking about Samuel L. Jackson?

    "I'm sick of these mother fuckin' hobbits in this mother fuckin' shire!"
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      I was thinking more of the moonwalking variety.

      "You want me to make a movie with little people? Again?"
  • He kept talking about how he had to do his childhood fantasy monkey movie before the Hobbit. That came, and went (and was terrible, IMO), so why hasn't he moved on already? Some of the actors in the Rings could be used in the Hobbit...maybe Golum, Gandalf...not sure about others though -- Kate B. could provide a narration in her Elvin persona (as she would likely have had some knowledge of it even though, I don't remember her being in the book).
    l
  • Who owns what (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dracos (107777) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:10PM (#16967720)

    Apparently some people are confused as to who owns what.

    • Saul Zaentz owns the film/tv (most non-print, iirc) rights to all of Tolkien's works.
    • New Line has a license to produce films based on LOTR, which they have exercised.
    • MGM has a license to produce film(s) based on The Hobbit, which they have not exercised.

    Both Jackson and New Line tried to buy MGM's license multiple times in the last decade. MGM wouldn't sell for any reasonable price.

    With the expiration of MGM's license drawing nigh, they realized that they finally had to do something in order to profit from it. What's the simplest thing to do? Go to New Line and offer a partnership that puts Jackson in the mix.

    What MGM didn't count on is the accounting suit Jackson has against New Line regarding profits from FotR, a suit that New Line is stonewalling, but apparently tried to settle as a condition of Hobbit production, which Jackson didn't like. Everyone involved knows that any Hobbit film is dependent on Jackson's involvement for maximum profitability.

    And now MGM's license is about to expire. MGM has to be pissed at New Line for allowing this to happen. Jackson is probably annoyed at New Line for trying to drag his lawsuit into it. New Line is probably salivating at the prospect of finally getting the Hobbit license for themselves, to do with as they wish. They just have to hope Jackson doesn't get it, if he wants it.

    If Jackson does get the Hobbit license, wouldn't it just be a kick in the balls if he had MGM distribute it?

  • expired yet? How long ago was this published? Is their sue everyone stance just making people afraid to use it?

  • Fa la la la lolly.
    Welcome bad to the valley.
  • Just don't let him make Smaug go ice-skating in central park.

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