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It's official: Peter Jackson will be directing the upcoming two-part film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
Deadline reports that negotiations began back in June. Considering that Jackson has been attached to this project since the beginning as a producer, I think we all knew it would come to this point after Guillermo del Toro of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy fame left the project. This was because of the development bedlam that “Hobbit” has been in: the film was time and time again pushed back, as numerous directors were rumored to be set for the project. Perhaps the most noteworthy case was when was said to have been directing a few months ago.
Let’s get back to Jackson and the reason that he was heavily involved with this film in the first place. He adapted Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings books into films, crafting them into the greatest motion picture trilogy of the last decade and one of the greatest ever. As such, the films were a massive success with critics and audiences alike and even broke the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ traditional stance against fantasy films: the last film in the series swept the Oscars in 2003, and the first two were also recognized.
What he did is not entirely different from what George Lucas did with Star Wars in 1977; he just did it more successfully and on a more epic scale. On the contrary, though, Jackson still has the potential to not sink into the infamy that Lucas has. If he does right by The Hobbit, he could secure his place as one of the greatest directors in cinematic history. That is, of course, assuming that people aren't bombarded with lazily made spin-offs and prequels.
People might complain that we'll be getting more of the same with Jackson revisiting Tolkien's Middle Earth, but is that really something to complain about?