The Hobbit is Greenlit, Peter Jackson Starts Shooting in February
I feel like a broken record saying all this, but we can finally report, from multiple sources, that The Hobbit is greenlit, ready to go, with Peter Jackson at the helm, and shooting starting early next year. The NY Times was the first to report that Jackson's deal to direct is finalized and Warner Bros' and MGM have "worked out their deal to finance the pair of films." The Wrap has also announced that The Hobbit has been greenlit with shooting starting in February. No more sources needed, this is a done deal, it's time to start getting really excited about seeing J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved novel finally hit the big screen in two movies in 2012 and 2013.
The NY Times says there are still issues regarding the actors unions in New Zealand (see here for more info) and drops this nerve-wracking statement near the end: "If the studios move the film out of New Zealand, the budget, which already runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, would have to be redrawn, and at least some further delay would be inevitable." We're so close, I hope everything works out, and I'm sure it will. I really don't think New Zealand wants to lose this production, nor does Jackson want to move off the island. Rumors are that Martin Freeman might play Bilbo Baggins, but no casting has been officially confirmed yet, though we can assume that Sir Ian McKellen will undoubtedly be back to play the lovable wizard Gandalf.
Don't forget that the budget for both movies is around $500 million, which is quite a damn bit, but bring it on, as I want to see The Hobbit imagined in all of its epic glory, following in the same footsteps as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is a bit sad that Guillermo del Toro (or anyone else for that matter) won't be putting his unique stamp on this, although I have a feeling Jackson will still pull from a lot of the designs and work that del Toro did before he left. Warner Bros, who runs New Line Cinema, will be releasing the first Hobbit on December 19th, 2012. It may seem like a very long way away, but it'll be here sooner than you know!