In a breaking story (where details are still unfolding), reports are coming in that New Line Cinema, the studio responsible for the massively successful Lord of the Rings trilogy, is breaking its ties to Peter Jackson, the trilogy’s influential director.
The controversy is surrounding the full payout of Jackson’s salary. Jackson is suing New Line, claiming they are holding what is his. Thus, Robert Shaye, an executive producer on the Lord of the Rings and a New Line head, said that the adaptation of “The Hobbit” (a prequel, of sorts, to the primary Lord of the Rings trilogy) will not be directed by Jackson.
“I do not want to make a movie with somebody who is suing me. It will never happen during my watch.”
This is huge not only for the “ringers” (fans of Lord of the Rings), but for the film world in general. Peter Jackson is one of the most influential directors in Hollywood, and this is the latest in a series of misfortunes that Jackson has encountered after the stunning success of Lord of the Rings. King Kong, his remake of the 1933 epic, did not perform to expectations, as mentioned before he is suing New Line Cinema, the production of Halo was ceased, and now he’s being completely shut out of the production of The Hobbit.
Mark Ordesky, one of the more visible producers of the trilogy (fans may know him from the behind the scenes DVD set), commented that the reason Jackson is being removed as director is because of the limited time option they have on the story. Saul Zaentz, whose group manages the rights for Tolkien’s works, will receive the rights again if the film is not made soon enough – giving Peter Jackson the ability to make it independently (he certainly has the money and support) and distribute it (MGM owns distribution rights, not New Line).
This is just another example of the nonsense that comes out of Hollywood’s top-heavy bureaucratic decision making. Fortunately however, Peter Jackson has the resources to pull out of it. Hopefully we’ll hear more on this soon.