August 20, 2008 / 9:05 AM / 11 years ago

Jackson and del Toro to pen "Hobbit" screenplays

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro’s search for writers for “The Hobbit” and its companion film has ended, with the filmmakers deciding that no one is better suited for the task than they are.

Director Peter Jackson poses as he arrives for the premiere of his movie "King Kong" in London's Leicester Square, December 8, 2005. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Del Toro (“Hellboy,” “Pan’s Labyrinth”), who is directing the movies, will team with the “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker and “Hobbit” executive producer Jackson to adapt the J.R.R. Tolkien book and write its follow-up. Also joining them in the writers’ room are Frank Walsh and Philippa Boyens, both of whom collaborated with Jackson on the “Rings” trilogy.

The news caps an eight-month search for a scribe to adapt the literary classic to the big screen.

“Hobbit,” written by Tolkien for his children years before the “Rings” trilogy, follows a young Bilbo Baggins, who finds his comfortable life turned upside down when the wizard Gandalf takes him on a journey for a hoard of treasure that involves trolls, humans, Gollum and his ring of invisibility and a dragon named Smaug.

After Jackson and New Line resolved their differences over profit participation in the “Rings” films, Jackson said he would not write the scripts for the “Hobbit” movies because of other commitments. But in his role as executive producer, he does have approval over creative elements of the productions.

After del Toro came aboard the project, the two began a search for writers. Three factors came into play:

* The filmmakers saw their schedules open up.

* During the general discussions about the films, they realized how much affection they had for the material.

* They also realized that in order to make the targeted release dates, the process required people intimate with Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth.

Considering all this, they chose to handle the writing honours themselves, along with Walsh and Boyens.

“Hobbit” and its sequel are being co-produced, co-financed and co-distributed by New Line and MGM, with New Line managing production and handling domestic distribution through Warner Bros., and MGM distributing internationally.

The films will be shot simultaneously, with principal photography tentatively set for a late-2009 start. New Line and MGM hope to release “Hobbit” in 2011 and its sequel the following year.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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