The past few days have been a swarm of speculation around The Hobbit after New Line’s Bob Shaye stated publicly that he would like to see Peter Jackson involved in the project somehow. This is all strange because Shaye and Jackson had a very public feud and legal battle over millions of dollars of LotR profits earlier this year.
Let me see if I can compile all the rumors into a single post here. Hopefully I’ll attribute the right sources since this goes back to January at least. Here’s the timetable:
January 5, 2007:
Disputes over the amount of money he was due for the Lord of the Rings series caused Peter Jackson to pull out of the project.
New Line CEO Robert Shaye did an interview with SciFi.com where he basically announced that they were through with Peter Jackson. He was even quoted as saying, “I do not want to make a movie with somebody who is suing me… [Jackson] will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I’m still working for the company.”
At that time The Hobbit was brought up, saying there was a “limited time option” on the film’s rights, so they were seeking a new director. The rights were part of a deal in 1998 that brought the trilogy to New Line. If full production isn’t underway by Dec 2009, it defaults back to The Saul Zaentz Company.
February 1, 2007:
The LA Times ran a scoop story claiming that Sam Raimi (director of the three Spider-Man movies) had been approached to helm the movie. At that time nothing was certain, only that he was considering it.
February 18, 2007:
The New York Times did an article on the state of New Line as a business, which is struggling financially with duds like Snakes on a Plane and the Tenacious D movie. It had an interview with Shaye, who at the time was just getting over struggling medically. In that interview he admitted that there was “no workable script,” but was planning it for 2009. He would not comment on Raimi’s involvement.
April 16, 2007:
Raimi said he would do The Hobbit in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “If Peter didn’t want to do it, and Bob wanted me to do it — and they were both okay with me picking up the reins — that would be great.”
Flash foward to:
August 10, 2007:
In an article in the LA Times, they focus on the rocky financial ground of New Line. But in it they mention The Hobbit. It said that the studio has been quietly trying to mend fences with PJ. Shaye said, “Notwithstanding our personal quarrels, I really respect and admire Peter and would love for him to be creatively involved in some way in The Hobbit.”
IESB.net then says they have “inside sources” that tell them while Raimi is considering a Clash of the Titans remake and possible involvement in Spider-Man 4, he’s also eying directing The Hobbit with Jackson producing. Of course these are just rumors are this point, but that’s the latest.
To me it sounds like Shaye is willing to settle and negotiate some kind of deal with Jackson to help pull the company out of this financial slide it’s been going through in the last year or two. But like the Raimi/Jackson rumors, that is purely speculation.