The two-part adaptation of The Hobbit has had a helluva road. MGM goes broke and can‘t secure the money. Guillermo del Toro leaves the project. Unions in Australia and New Zealand have pressured their actors not to work on the films, possibly forcing a location change. Rights issues with Tolkien’s estate.
Some folks are claiming The Hobbit is cursed, but word came down yesterday that things were looking up. Slashfilm reported that the films were very close to getting a green light, with all of those issues supposedly very near to being resolved. Speculation was that the go-ahead was merely days away.
But today brings more bad news – Nikki Finke is reporting that a fire has destroyed a workshop set in Peter Jackson’s Wellington production facility, leaving only a burned-out shell and more troubles looming on the horizon for pre-production. Word ‘round the campfire (too soon?) is that even amidst all the troubles, shooting could still begin as early as January, but one has to wonder what else could be in store.
Really though, at the end of the day, this isn’t a huge loss. Sets are easily (if expensively) replaced and nothing in the reporting has led me to believe that anything substantial was lost – though details are still coming in. With the earnings potential of these two movies it seems likely that MGM will be able to secure some outside investment (especially given that they’re going in as partners with the Warners and New Line and won’t have to foot the entire bill themselves) and worst case scenario on the union debacle is that they move the production, which PJ has said he’s willing to do. So, even though the list keeps getting longer, none of these things are death blows and will probably, at the end of it all, be curious little anecdotes to include in a Making of Documentary on the eventual Blu-ray release.