Skip to comments.Jackson bids farewell to The Hobbit
Posted on 11/20/2006 11:37:38 PM PST by MadIvan
He is the flamboyant director whose The Lord of the Rings trilogy picked up 17 Oscars. But Peter Jackson has been cast out of Middle Earth after a row over profits from the $4 billion-plus (£2.1 billion) franchise.
Fans of the fantasy films were dismayed by an e-mail, detailing a dispute between Jackson and the New Line film studio, which the New Zealander sent to a website devoted to matters Tolkien.
It contained explosive news that the most lucrative franchise in Hollywood history after Star Wars will return with a Lord of the Rings prequel. A big-budget version of The Hobbit is also set for production.
But Jackson, a devoted Tolkien fan who battled to bring his vision of Rings to the screen, will not be involved. The director said that he had been removed from the project by New Line. We have always assumed that we would be asked to make The Hobbit and possibly this second film, back to back, as we did the original movies, Jacksons e-mail to TheOneRing.net fansite read.
Meetings with executives were planned. But Jackson said that last week New Line called his manager to tell him that the company would no longer be requiring our services on The Hobbit and the prequel.
New Line was actively looking to hire another filmmaker for both projects. This outcome was not what we anticipated or wanted, he added. Jackson said New Line would not allow him to make the films unless he first dropped a lawsuit demanding a greater share of the trilogys profits.
Matt Dravitzki, Jacksons assistant at Wingnut films in New Zealand, confirmed that the e-mail was genuine. New Line declined to comment last night, but industry sources said that the company was seeking alternative directors.
Jackson, who earned $200 million from the franchise, according to his lawyers, believes that he is due millions more from merchandising, video and computer games sales income.
According to the Jackson e-mail, the film company used the lure of directing two new Tolkien films as leverage to put the lawsuit to one side. He wrote: Our manager, Ken Kamins, got a call from the co-president of New Line, Michael Lynne, who in essence told Ken that the way to settle the lawsuit was to get a commitment from us to make The Hobbit, because thats how these things are done.
Michael Lynne said we would stand to make much more money if we tied the lawsuit and the movie deal together, and this may well be true. But its still the worst reason in the world to agree to make a film.
Jackson refused to tie the making of The Hobbit to a settlement of the lawsuit. He said: Deciding to make a movie should come from the heart its not a matter of business convenience. Any compromise on his part would ensure that the Hobbit film was doomed.
Jackson said that his removal was due to New Line only having rights to make the new films within a limited period. Almost 40,000 fans have signed a petition urging the film-makers to sign Jackson for The Hobbit. But while they will mourn his departure from the project, the prospect of a Rings prequel remains mouthwatering.
Jackson revealed the existence of a proposed film . . . covering the events leading up to those depicted in LOTR. There was speculation that it could utilise the Tolkien writings compiled after his death by son Christopher, such as The Silmarillion. A large amount of background material was published in The History of Middle-earth.
But a prequel, without Jacksons guiding hand, presents difficulties. It may not receive such a warm welcome from the New Zealand authorities, who made location filming in the countrys spectacular locations cost-effective.
The Hobbit tells how Bilbo Baggins stole from Gollum the ring battled over in the later books while on an adventure in the Misty Mountains with Gandalf and an array of dwarfs.
£10,000 price for which Tolkien sold film rights in 1968
$281m Rings trilogy budget
$2.95bn box-office gross
$1.2bn DVD, merchandise, TV rights gross
$1bn New Line profit
$200m Peter Jacksons cut
Source: Internet Movie Database; Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan
I agree... this is a shame.
Who knows. We might be surprised. I loved the LOTR films (aside from the elimination of the crucial scouring of the shire portion).
Yeah. Heavenly Creatures is pretty interesting, but it gave no idea that Jackson was capable of the LOTR's marvels. Maybe there's someone just as good in the wings. I doubt it, but maybe... It does seem that you'd want to carry thru the same vision in the related movies, so I'm not sure what New Line is thinking (or smoking).
Who knows...there were several deficiencies in LotRings...
When Strider, Legolas and Gimli greeted the Riders of Rohan, there was no mention from whence they came, yet they were clad in Elven garb. And 3 different Sorts trailing a company of Uruk-hai for 4 days without rest! The book has a wonderful line that was omitted.
And the War of Ents. We see Gandalf showing up at Helm's Deep but the Ents destroyed much of Saruman's army and this is unnoticed.
It is a good film, but so much is lacking. And Frodo always seems so so queer...much of the cast seems the same...
I agree; I have serious doubts as to whether someone besides Jackson can do THE HOBBIT justice. Jackson did cut some things that were important to the LOTR as a whole (for instance, the whole Tom Bombadil section is actually very important to the meaning of the books, but it is rather long and talky and so got the axe).
But Jackson had the *feel* of the books, and translated that beautifully into film. And we know he does wonderful battle scenes, so I was hoping for great things from the Battle of the Five Armies. But ... we shall see what we shall see. Hopefully there is indeed someone else in the wings who can do THE HOBBIT justice.
Michael Bay! Michael Bay!
So, is everyone shuddering now?
New Line is messing with a good thing here. They've fallen prey to the Ring...of cash registers...
What about Sam Raimi? He's done a great job with the Spiderman movies.
Actually, I think the movies could have been done differently. While Gollum was the great "creation" of the movies, I thought that whole huge sections of meaning were lost in the films translation from the books. It was a strongly Catholic work and much of that got left out.
Explain to me Tom Bombadil. Seriously, I want to know who he is. Thank you!
meg, I'm afraid you are right. One of the great things about LOTR was its faithfulness to the books and Jackson's deft touch with necessary "special effects".
I'm certain "The Hobbit" is going suffer without Jackson performing the directorial duties.
Yet, wouldn't Tolkien disagree with your assessment of it being a "strong Catholic work." He wrote over and over that it was not an analogy for Christianity or World War II or even nature versus machinery.
I think I am going to learn something. Thank you.
He is an enigma. That's actually rather clever writing. It involves the reader and allows me to determine who and what Tom Bombadil is. (I actually think he is annoying)
Yeah they just kinda loped off the second half of the last book.
And all the hollywood kissyface Liv Tyler fabrication, whut wuz up with that?
IF they take their time and do the Hobbit by the book, it will be fantastic.
BTW I have written and recorded a really cool tune about old Bilbo,that would be awesome for the trailer credits.
Check it out.
Jackson is an enigma.
The Rings trilogy is about the best movie-making I ever saw, yet 'King Kong' was so laughably bad I couldn't believe the same director was behind both projects. Very odd. You have to wonder if the New Line people saw 'King Kong' and decided they better find a way to ditch Jackson.
What people see in them is beyond me
They are like watching someone else play gauntlet
I liked King Kong. I thought it was good.
I know it's crazy but nowadays I judge movies by how long it takes me to get sick of them, and the thing I got sick of first in LOTR were the Orc battle scenes. Because once you've seen one Orc battle scene you've seen them all.
I really hate to see Jackson go. He did a wonderful job. But OTOH maybe the new director won't spend quite so much time on those damned screeching Orc battle scenes!
I agree. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was pure magic.
I think the movies demonstrated the moral weight of Tolkien's work in terms of good vs. evil.
Well, the orcs became bigger, bolder, and more brutal with each new battle. I thought it was a good way of showing the increasing level of evil Saramon was generating.
It was an act of love for the story and the characters, and an ultimate salute to J.R.R. Tolkien.
You don't just run across that sort of passion in the film industry, unless it involves underaged boys.
That being said, I think now that the Hobbit will be about as good as the last two (or the third) Potter films.
I mean, what the heck did they do with Dumbledore's character? The guy's become a raving old loon. I miss Richard Harrison in the role. He brought a level of dignity and "gravitas" to the character. The director in the third film wasn't so interested in setting the proper mood for the film as displaying his morbid fascination for a murderous "whomping willow" that slaughtered random birds as they flew by.
Neither of the last two Potter films conveyed the atmosphere, care or craftsmanship that the first two films brought to the screen. They were cheap immitations. "Wannabes" that failed, although they still were able to deliver a tattered summary of the actual story. That's enough to carry it among die hard fans (me included.)
So really, losing Jackson for "The Hobbit" really is a cutting blow. Too bad, but we can always treasure his work on LOTR. That will always be an eternal masterpiece of directing and secure his place in film history.
New Line made a bunch of money? I'd say that was the point of their investing nearly $300 million in the three movies.
Without the enormous gamble of a huge amount of someone else's money, Peter Jackson would be unknown to most of the world.
Greed does not look good on people.
I noticed he ain't fighting over the disappointing King Kong money.
Tolkien's heirs probably deserve a lot more of the profits than anyone.
Good post. Excellent points.
"I mean, what the heck did they do with Dumbledore's character? "
Don't even get me started. The movies have completely failed to capture the true spirit of the books, the quirky behavior and droll humor of the character of Dumbledore is gone, replaced by a stern, seemingly always angry autoritarian, whereas the actual character in the books is kind (almost too kind), soft spoken, rarely raises his voice, and almost drifts through the books in a befuddled, child-like innocence (hiding the true nature of the man). That character is Rowlings greatest creation, not Harry or the kids. Dumbledore is well written in the books, Richard Harris as Dumbledore was fantastic, the new guy is horrible.
I give them credit for making the movies, the Goblet Of Fire was an enormous book, and they manages to retain enough story to make sense, but it's too dark -even at her darkest, Rowlings still manages to have FUN. The movies are simply getting ponderous.
no doubt, my favorite line ever on freep. perfect comparison!
True, though. The books are simply tremendous and presenting them in only two hours or so is a herculean task. It might have been justified to release them in two parts (close together.)
"It's hard to feel sorry for Mr. Jackson. Is he having a hard time living on the $200 million he's earned on the trilogy?"
I do - he earned every cent.
I doubt he's missing any meals. (Actually, he's lost a significant amount of weight, he looks good) This isn't about that.
The money was made off his work. Why should'nt he be compensated appropriately? Do artists only "deserve" enough to survive on?
"New Line made a bunch of money? I'd say that was the point of their investing nearly $300 million in the three movies."
I'd say it has more to do with them using the profits of LoTRs to fund their other failed movies, and being their usual greedy selves. Yes, they took a chance, but if they agreed to share the money in a certain way, and are now going back on that, they deserve to lose the lawsuit, and lose HARD.
Until anyone sees the books and the docs from the lawsuit, it's all speculation, but from the quotes in the story, and past experience with Hollywood, I can fully believe they are blackmailing him with the Hobbit movie and a prequel to stave off a lawsuit where he's going to prevail. NLC can surely afford the best of the best in lawyers, and that they are reacting this way speaks volumes.
"Without the enormous gamble of a huge amount of someone else's money, Peter Jackson would be unknown to most of the world."
And the key person here is Peter Jackson. Period. Without him, these movies would not exist. He had the vision. He assembled the vast army of technicians and animators and created an entire company to produce the movies. He entered into the project, which is a long, long story before NLC came into the picture, and he paid his dues, and then some.
Do you begrudge George Lucas any of the money he made? Steven Speilberg? If George Lucas had been stiffed on movie sales and merchandising, would you also say "you made enough, shaddap"? (Lucky for Lucas, he kept ALL of the merchandising, at least for the first one)
Peter Jackson delivered the goods. His lawsuit says that he has not been compensated fairly. Does he not deserve the money? He made the movies. He lived in hell for years toiling to make them happen. Would you put your life on virtual hold for 6-8 years to produce your dream? And then take less than promised and walk away?
I say, if they promised him a percentage and are'nt giving it to him, then they should have the full weight of the law thrown at them. Peter Jackson broke no laws, harmed no one, broke no rules, sacrified far beyond what most people would even consider idly, delivered a product that performed beyond anyone's wildest dreams, yet you think he's just being greedy.
Ever hear of a thing called "honor"?
This is very much like the music business, where people accuse musicians of being greedy, when the labels take over 90% of all products sold. Does an artist only "deserve" 5%? Or is it simply the business as it exists, when it's the only game in town, you gotta play to play? Yes, the record label take a chance on a musician, but it it pays off, the artist deserves at LEAST the same as the investor, not 5%. I've always found that to be repugnant. Without the artist, there is no chance being taken. It's a codependancy, that's rigged heavily and unfairly to one side.
"Greed does not look good on people."
Especially when it's NLC and it's execs who are blackmailing a talented man because they don't want to give him what he earned. If we go by past behavior of movie companies and Hollywood execs in general, I'll side against them everytime, you have not experienced greed, true, unadulterated, greasy greed until you've been in Hollywood.
"I noticed he ain't fighting over the disappointing King Kong money."
"Tolkien's heirs probably deserve a lot more of the profits than anyone."
This is the only intelligent statement you've made. If anything, I would have thought Tolkein's estate would have final say over things like this, as they are fierce about protecting J.R.R.'s work, but sadly the Hollywood weasels have final say in this.
Flatly put, I don't trust many to have the same spirit and vision that Jackson would bring to the project. To reject the people who are ready to go NOW with all of the cg, props, sets, knowledge of the material, and vision, presided over by a man who's deeply talented and has a true, respectful love of the material...over dollars, that is the real tragedy here.
If the Hobbit is made, without Jackson, I have grave doubts as to it's quality, and expect a Hollywoodified piece of schlock thats more about merchandising toys and video games than bringing a wonderful and important book to many to life.
Yet again, Hollywood fails to promote art, and instead chooses to line it's pockets. I would not be surprised to see Jackson pull out of Hollywood completely, he has the name and clout and company to go it alone from now one, ala Mel Gibson. Screw New Line Cinema.
We need a bashki ping list now... and in this is a pile of bashki.
er, as in this is a pile of bashki.
Er, no. He found it lying on the ground. Only when Gollum was trying to kill him did Bilbo realize it was G's ring.
As for Peter Jackson, (almost?) every scene he added to LOTR was embarassing. It's still hard to believe that Aragorn went over that cliff and was awakened by his horse licking his face, like a scene from Hidalgo bizarrely stuck into the middle of LOTR. The Aragorn-as-reluctant-hero-pussy was a complete fabrication, and the lengthy special effects jumping-over-the-chasm in Moria was simply an excuse to do CGI.
If they cut out all the crap that was ADDED, there would have been time for more of the things they deleted.
They sold the rights to the movies. I don't think they retained any say in how they were done. Christopher Tolkien, as I'm sure you know, thought Peter Jackson's LOTR was a travesty.
I think you're right. In an age when most of what comes out of Hollywood resembles excrement, these movies were the greatest epics since Star Wars.
Hopefully this is all just positioning.
It won't be the same without him. Although 200 million is a huge amount of money, Peter Jackson earned every bit of it and deserves to share in the merchandising profits. The trilogy is nothing short of genius and NO ONE could devote the attention to detail like he did. I am saddened (but not surprised) that New Line could throw him to the curb. My best to Peter Jackson, I am a huge fan. :-)
Agreed Ivan, I'm not happy either. Hard to think the Hobbit will have the same feel as LoTR without PJ.
Last I heard, he claimed to have not even seen them. He thought the ~idea~ of films was a travesty.
"It is a good film, but so much is lacking. And Frodo always seems so so queer."
I agree Jackson changed some of the fundamentals of the story and not for the better. Case in point is the character of Frodo who challenges, battles and bests some of the greatest in the book only to fall at the end while the movie has him as a victim and failure nearly from the start.
The story unravels when they strayed too far from the books and it's my guess that a new director would do the same but with worse results.
The Silmarillion will be hard to translate to the screen, big or small, period. It's a collection of individual stories with an overall plot/theme to them. It would have to be done as some form of serial to do any justice to them, otherwise, it would wind up being a massive re-write of the source material.
I don't want to see anyone other than Jackson handle this, but if that rumor is true, it would make a lot of sense when you think about it.
I'd thought Tolkien was sharper on the business issues than that.
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