The forthcoming adaptation(s) of the Hobbit have been blinded by trouble since the get go. Firstly there were strong debates between Jackson and New Line (who then held the rights to the Hobbit) about money and how Jackson under contract did not get the amount owed for directing Lord of the Rings. Once solved more issues came about like the merging of New Line and the stability of other investor MGM.
Things did look more promising when Guillermo del Toro joined the production to co-write and take the directing chair, it was a very good choice to fill the shoes of Jackson despite having a different and almost auteur visual style, his expansion of Middle Earth would have at least been an intriguing one to see. However earlier in the year mired by financial difficulties and no start date confirmed, del Toro left the project and suspended the future of the Hobbit in limbo.
Now it appears we have some very exciting news, that it has finally got the greenlight with a filming start date of February 2011. With Peter Jackson directing from a script co-written by his usual partners and del Toro. The set and creature designs are apparently all there and waiting to go, including the crucial character of Smaug the dragon, which according to del Toro the geniuses at WETA spent over a year designing.
There has also been with this news, developments in the area of casting. Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis are set to reprise their roles from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. With the character of Bilbo Baggins, British actor Martin Freeman, best known to US audiences for his role in the UK version of the Office and cinematic adaptation of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, has been hotly tipped to take the role, despite initially saying his schedule was too busy to claim the role. Other actors including the formidable Michael Fassbender, David Tennant and James Nesbitt have been linked with other, so far unnamed, roles within the film.
All the news has come all at once which shows Jackson is adamant to get things well underway and have everything in place quickly for them to really go forward in February. The Hobbit will be a two part film Part One to be released around December of 2012.