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Peter Jackson expected to direct “The Hobbit”

Let bursts of joy echo throughout Middle Earth, for Peter Jackson is negotiating with Warner Bros/New Line/MGM to direct both installments of The Hobbit! The original Lord of the Rings trilogy director was producing and advising the oft-delayed project, but when those delays caused Guillermo Del Toro to abandon his post as director, the search desperately began to fill the void to keep the target release dates in 2012 and 2013 intact.

Speculation ranged from last-three Harry Potters director David Yates to District 9′s Neill Blomkamp in terms of finding a replacement, but Deadline believes Jackson was expected to take reigns for some time now. Previously, Jackson’s people denied the rumors of his involvement as director because of his obligations toward other projects, but it appears Jackson merely needed time to sever those ties before he could negotiate his contract for the job. Deadline is also speculating that Jackson has already scheduled trips to London and Los Angeles to check out the best audition tapes, so the deal is merely being finalized.

Okay, so as fun as the speculation was, let’s admit how much sense this makes. In fact, the reason we never reported the rumors at PAM was because this conclusion was sort of inevitable from the beginning. Jackson is already familiar with the project — and not just any project, this is a multi-million-dollar project that will take a year to film.

No way at all that Warner Bros and New Line were going to throw this undertaking in the hands of a low-budget filmmaker like Blomkamp. Yates would have been well-suited as far as films of this scale, but he’s an outsider. Jackson co-wrote the script, he knows New Zealand and the filming locations, so in a pinch — which is exactly what this production was in when Del Toro left — you’ve got to go the obvious route or you run into disaster. Jackson would have surely felt nice and cozy remaining in his consultant chair, but I think it didn’t take long for him to realize the potential setbacks and ultimate dooming of the project staying hands-off would cause.

So breathe a sigh of relief fans, because it looks like we should get The Hobbit in December of 2012 and 2013 after all. Hopefully some casting news will surface in the next few months so that filming can get started in 2011. 

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