I am writing to you today with a message of hope – a shining light in the perpetual dusk, burning brighter than Eärendil – in these, our darkest hours. I too remember where I was that terrible day when Peter Jackson announced that due to his battles with New Line, he would not be directing The Hobbit. I was unpacking groceries, and when the news broke, I put down my cans of Progresso soup and wept openly over my box of Saltines.
Since that day New Line and PJ have reconciled their differences, MGM has come out to play, and The Hobbit has been rumored…and rumored…and rumored some more…to be in pre-pre-pre-pre-production. The release date jumped from 2010 to 2012, but really, if the two-part film is made well the wait is of little consequence. What is consequential, however, is the emotional toll this roller coaster of a film has taken on us all.
All it took were the staunchly supportive words of Ian McKellen, wise Gandalf himself, to remind us that Peter Jackson is the man who should, either as producer or director (or, dare we dream it, both), be the orchestrator of this project. He took our beloved Tolkien and, with a few arguable bumps in the road, turned it into a sensitive and faithful retelling of the Master’s epic tale. Why shouldn’t he do the same with the tales that came before The Lord of the Rings? But when this journey began, you’ll recall, The Lovely Bones prevented him from agreeing to direct the project. The Lovely Bones has come and gone with little to show for itself except a wicked cool CGI sequence in heaven.
Unfortunately, the director slated to pick up where PJ left off, Guillermo del Toro, has also come and gone. He’s directed in the realm of fantasy before, and with great artistic success. A del Toro and Jackson team seemed like a match made in the non-CGI version of heaven. But the massive set of delays with MGM’s shoddy finances put the movie back so far that he could no longer commit to a “maybe Hobbit”. Thus we’re left adrift with no skipper, and no inkling that PJ will take the helm unless things sort themselves out fast. And, perhaps, unless we clap our hands rather loudly and exclaim, “I do believe!”.
Are you yet wondering how this is a missive of hope, given all I’ve done is drag us once more through the misery that has been the last few years of speculation? Well, my fellow faithful, here is where things change.
Work is being done on The Hobbit. It’s just not being done where we can readily see it. All we see are the dramatic headlines of strife and indecision. But recently the calligrapher and cartographer for The Lord of the Rings hinted in his e-mail newsletter that he was working, albeit on things he clearly couldn’t discuss, on The Hobbit. Furthermore, personal friends of mine visited Weta Digital and, although sworn to secrecy (literally – with a signed contract), there were vague murmurs of Hobbit-related goings on in the air. And those are only two examples of behind-the-scenes activity; there are plenty of Hobbit-related sightings in New Zealand, as well.
Obviously without a firm cast (although several strong casting rumors have emerged) and without a director, The Hobbit‘s wheels are spinning in the mud. But the greatest obstacle to all this has been MGM’s financial woes, as the company has found itself in a heap of monetary trouble. Sources report to the ultimate geek rumor mill, TheOneRing.net, that MGM could be negotiating its debts as soon as September 15th. What then will follow for The Hobbit is anyone’s guess, but MGM seems committed to the project.
Also committed to the project remains del Toro, despite his departure. He recently spoke to Ain’t It Cool News about his active advocacy of The Hobbit and how he’s still involved in its writing. A talent like him on our side, even in an ancillary capacity, is no bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. A very hopeful thing. Had del Toro walked and never given a glance back over his shoulder, we’d have far more cause for concern.
So, my fellow Ringers, let us band together, link arms, and sing a ditty worthy of The Green Dragon – and not an elven funeral dirge. The Hobbit hasn’t gone into the West, it’s just waiting for a band of heroes to come along and save the day.
How very Tolkienian.
That Girl Who Wore the Eowyn Costume at the Conventions
(Well, one of them.)