The movie version of “The Hobbit” is getting under way. Here are some details:
Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was named on Thursday to direct two movies based on the J.R.R. Tolkien book “The Hobbit” to build on the blockbuster success of “The Lord of the Rings” series.
Plans to make a two-part precursor to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, based on Tolkien’s three-volume follow-up to his “Hobbit” story, were announced in December after settlement of a bitter legal dispute cleared the way for the project.
Del Toro, whose credits include “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Blade II,” will move to New Zealand for the next four years to work on both “Hobbit” films with executive producer Peter Jackson, who directed all three “The Lord of the Rings” movies, according to New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
The studios have said that filming will begin in 2009, with tentative release dates set of 2010 for the first film and 2011 for the sequel.
The plans call for del Toro to work back-to-back on “The Hobbit” and its sequel, which will deal with the 60-year period between that story and “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the studios said.
Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” was a pretty remarkable fantasy movie, however creepy and depressing, so he should be OK. Jackson, who did such a good job with the trilogy, will be in charge. That this two-movie arrangement will include not just “The Hobbit” but will cover the 60 years before “The Fellowship of the Ring” is interesting, indeed. I guess that means that filmmakers will be taking on at least part of “The Silmarilion.”