Peter Jackson's Next Move: 'Lord Of The Rings' Prequel Or Dragon War Epic?

Director sets sights on 'Temeraire,' while MGM has him in mind for 'The Hobbit.'

On the one hand, there's the scary prospect of trying to bring to life the Napoleonic wars featuring an air force of dragons. Then there's the option of returning to the comforting confines of the shire, where the goose has already laid three enormous golden eggs and secured director Peter Jackson a place in cinematic history.

Such are the choices facing "King Kong" director Jackson, who has already set his sights on his next fantasy project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Jackson has optioned the rights to the historical fantasy series "Temeraire," by first-time novelist Naomi Novik, which re-imagines the world of the Napoleonic Wars with the addition of an air force of dragons and brave aviators, even as MGM expresses an interest in having the New Zealand native get behind the camera for "The Hobbit," a prequel to his billion-dollar "The Lord of the Rings" series.

Jackson is currently focused on "Temeraire," though. The book's story follows British naval Captain Will Laurence, who, after capturing a French ship, discovers an unhatched dragon egg in the hold — a gift from the emperor of China intended for Napoleon. When the egg hatches, Laurence is forced to give up his naval career to become captain of the dragon he names Temeraire.

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" 'Temeraire' is a terrific meld of two genres that I particularly love — fantasy and historical epic," Jackson said, according to the Reporter. "I can't wait to see Napoleonic battles fought with a squadron of dragons. That's what I go to the movies for." Novik, a computer programmer, wrote the first "Temeraire" book in 2004 and is now working on the fourth installment.

Jackson got an early version of the book and said he was hooked from the beginning. "As I was reading these books, I could see them coming to life in my mind's eye," Jackson said. "These are beautifully written novels, not only fresh, original and fast-paced, but full of wonderful characters with real heart."

Though Novik said she was cautiously optimistic when she heard Jackson was interested, the author, who first read J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" at age 6, said having her novels read by the man who brought Tolkien's vision to the big screen is thrilling. According to the Reporter, Jackson hasn't decided whether he will make one "Temeraire" movie or three.

At the same time, according to Variety magazine, MGM wants Jackson on board for round four of the "Rings" series. The studio is interested in signing Jackson up to make the long-discussed prequel to the "Rings" series, "The Hobbit." So far, though, a spokesperson for Jackson said the director has not been contacted and has a full schedule coming up.

In addition to possibly directing "Temeraire," Jackson has signed on to produce a remake of the World War II movie "Dambusters." He has also optioned the rights to Alice Sebold's bestseller, "The Lovely Bones," and is working on writing a film adaptation of the novel, which he may also direct.

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