Peter Jackson will not be directing either "The Hobbit" or another planned "Lord of the Rings" prequel, the acclaimed filmmaker recently announced in an e-mail to J.R.R. Tolkien fan site TheOneRing.net.
"Last week, [Fine Line Features president and "LOTR" executive producer] Mark Ordesky called [manager] Ken [Kamins] and told him that New Line would no longer be requiring our services on "The Hobbit" and the LOTR prequel," Jackson wrote. "This was a courtesy call to let us know that the studio was now actively looking to hire another filmmaker for both projects.
"We got to go there — but not back again," Jackson added, referring to Bilbo Baggins' "There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Holiday," a book within the book that describes the events of "The Hobbit" from Bilbo's point of view.
According to Jackson, the studio's decision to move in another creative direction stems from an unresolved lawsuit against New Line filed on behalf of Jackson's production company, Wingnut Films.
"We have always said that we do not want to discuss 'The Hobbit' with New Line until the lawsuit over New Line's accounting practices is resolved. This is simple common sense," Jackson wrote. "Ordesky said that New Line has a limited-time option on the film rights, and because we won't discuss making the movies until the lawsuit is resolved, the studio is going to have to hire another director."
Jackson accused New Line of trying to resolve the lawsuit by tying it into his participation in "The Hobbit," a deal that Jackson admitted would probably make him "much more money" but which was, in his opinion, "the worst reason in the world to agree to make a film."
"Ken got a call from the co-president of New Line Cinema, Michael Lynne, who in essence told [him] that the way to settle the lawsuit was to get a commitment from us to make 'The Hobbit,' because 'that's how these things are done,' " Jackson wrote. "In our minds this is not the right reason to make a film and if a film of 'The Hobbit' went ahead on this basis, it would be doomed."
Taking away the director's chair from Jackson may be a case of New Line killing the goose who laid the golden eggs. Aside from winning 11 Academy Awards (including three for Jackson as writer, producer and director), "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" is currently the second-highest-grossing movie of all time, with over $1.1 billion in worldwide ticket sales (see " 'Return Of The King' Crowned 11 Times At Academy Awards").
For Jackson, official word that he won't be bringing "The Hobbit" to the screen ends an 11-year relationship between the director and Tolkien's iconic characters.
"Our journey into Tolkien's world started with a phone call from Ken Kamins in November 1995 and ended with a phone call to Ken in November 2006," Jackson recalled. "The outcome is not what we anticipated or wanted, but neither do we see any positive value in bitterness and rancor. We have no choice but to let the idea of a film of 'The Hobbit' go and move forward with other projects."
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