The veiling shadow that glowers in the west takes shape. Warner Brothers will suffer no rival. From the summit of a water tower, its eye watches New Zealand ceaselessly.
For the long years and months MGM struggled to survive and other studios did their best to try and pick out the scraps of their library like vultures on a carcass. It was known that Warner Brothers in particular desired the rights to The Hobbit and was offering a handsome deal for them. MGM clung tightly to them though, with the hope that if they ever got their shit together they’d have cash-cows left to exploit. Hindsight seems to be proving that a wise decision, as MGM retains those rights even while partnering with Warner Brothers on a massive scale to get The Hobbit started.
As we are only a month out from the production rolling cameras, deals are being locked down and funding arrangements signed allowing Deadline to get word that Warner Brothers will ultimately be fronting the cash for the entire half-a-billion dollar endeavor. This is a “scoop” of sorts that follows up on the publicly announced development that Warner Brothers will also distribute the film globally, with MGM left with the worldwide TV rights (which, regardless of Netflix and the internet, still represents enormous money). So a new order has risen- a union of the two studios, with one building the massive capitalist mechanism that will back this production, while the other provides the fuel for the machine. WB would probably like to be running the show entirely with MGM involved not at all, but money talks and they have for all practical points and purposes taken over the The Hobbit films.
In other news that makes a mere financial arrangement worth mentioning, Peter Jackson has apparently been meeting with his old Lord of the Rings cast members, and locking down which of them will appear. TheOneRing.net broke the story that Elijah Wood had agreed to take a part in The Hobbit, and have since amended their story in response to internet speculation to confirm (*AND THIS IS WHERE THE SPOILERS START*) that Frodo will return in the prologues of the two films, with he and Bilbo’s written version of their tales being the center of the cameo. There is also word that Orlando Bloom and others have been approached, but only Elijah Wood has been confirmed. We’re still not sure if we’re getting one long, augmented version of The Hobbit, or The Hobbit as mostly contained to a single film along with a bridge film borne of Tolkien’s supplementary Middle-Earth material and material of Jackson’s own creation. Perhaps these cameos will be integral ways of sliding in Jackson’s own bridging material, or maybe they’ll all just happily crowd around the book with smiles, as the screen crossfades into the stories of old.
Along with Star Wars, it was partly the excitement of the Lord of the Rings production that fueled the creation of this here internet-based movie fanaticism, so it will be interesting to see how the modern machine focuses its hyper-updating gaze onto this new production. With only a month between now and the start of shooting, we don’t have long to wait.