The Peter Jackson-produced and Guillermo del Toro-directed two-part The Hobbit movies have been pushed back again and this time it could impact the scheduled December 2011 and December 2012 release dates.
In a red carpet interview with DigitalSpy (via Playlist), Gollum actor Andy Serkis said the 14-month production would get underway at the end of 2010. Ian McKellen had previously indicated they would be shooting this June. So far they are the only two confirmed cast members, though Hugo Weaving has been rumored for a reprisal of elf lord Elrond.
Problems with the script had initially delayed the production by roughly six months, but this time the hold-up seems to be the financial situation at MGM, who holds half the rights to Middle Earth-based adventures. The struggling studio has just been given more time by its lenders (their fourth extension) after bids to take over the company failed to make a significant dent in their debt.
MGM’s debt is also delaying the 23rd installment in the James Bond series.
A source for the production told TheOneRing.net, “At this stage we are all working and hoping for the best case scenario. Without a doubt, the MGM situation carries great importance.” Some are holding out hope for the original 2011 target, but the date seems extremely unlikely considering the setbacks and the length of the New Zealand production.
Meanwhile, a recent article on the Hollywood 3D trend at Deadline said discussions for shooting the Hobbit in 3D are “intriguing.” Del Toro has expressed his desire to shoot in 2D, but Warners is pushing for that extra dimension in order to convert the Lord of the Rings trilogy and release all five in the new gimmicky format. When asked about the possibility of a 3D Middle Earth, Serkis didn’t know “what was going on with that debate.”