Written by Sarah

A cursed movie is a movie where any and everything goes wrong. Sometimes the results are a great movie (Jaws, Apocalypse Now) and sometimes they’re disastrous (Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote). The Hobbit, the prequel to The Lord of the Rings, has all the markings of a cursed movie.

Since LOTR’s mega-success from 2001-2003, an adaptation of The Hobbit was inevitable, and it should have been easy. But Peter Jackson wanted to do other, non-hobbity things so the project would move forward without him at the helm, though he remained a producer. Meanwhile, New Line, the studio that took a chance on a virtually unknown Jackson to make LOTR, ran aground, having a spectacularly bad year in 2007 that resulted in the disastrous The Golden Compass which brought New Line to the brink until Warner Brothers stepped in and made New Line their bitch (it’s now a division of Warner Brothers).

With Warner Brothers backing New Line, The Hobbit started to move forward again. Jackson still wasn’t on to direct but he began working with fanboy fantasy favorite Guillermo del Toro to develop the movie. Then comes another financial meltdown, this time from MGM; they hold the international rights to The Hobbit and it is one of the most lucrative properties on their slate. MGM is circling the drain--a year from now they won’t be the studio we’ve known our whole lives. Suddenly they’re depending on The Hobbit to make them worthwhile to investors. But MGM is so skint they can’t get anything done and it’s on Warner Brothers to handle getting a mega-budget movie (upwards of $500 million to make a two-part film) into production while their producing partner staves off chapter 11.

Now we flip back to creative drama. In May it was announced del Toro would not be moving ahead with The Hobbit. In July, Jackson confirmed he would, in fact, be directing. You will never convince me Jackson didn’t throw del Toro under the bus. With The Hobbit caught in a precarious position because of MGM’s money woes, the project would need a director that inspires confidence that this can be a sure-fire box office win--who better than the man who made LOTR into a mint? Since I think I’m the only person on the planet that liked The Lovely Bones, Jackson needs a win himself. What better solution for both sides than for Jackson to direct The Hobbit?

Where The Hobbit is at today: the money thing seems to be settled (no one is yet sure how much of the financial burden Warner Brothers is assuming, but I’m going with “most of it” as MGM has negative four billion dollars), and a shooting start date of February 2011 is in place in order to meet the promised holiday 2012 release date for Part 1. Of course it will be filmed in 3D because apparently no one but Christopher Nolan has the stones to tell a studio boss that 3D is a costly gimmick that more often than not diminishes the look of the film.

Jackson wants to film on location in New Zealand as he did with LOTR but SAG is being crotchety about things like “contracts” and “fair treatment” for the New Zealand actors who appear in the films, and is encouraging an actors’ boycott of the project.

There are casting rumors. They say Martin Freeman (Love Actually) is close to signing as the young Bilbo Baggins and Andy Serkis is likely to reprise his work as Gollum. Ian McKellan, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett are either totally joining up or are tired of waiting around, depending on who you talk to. No word yet whether or not Flight of the Conchord’s Bret McKenzie will reprise his role as “Elf escort”.

It’s an inauspicious start for The Hobbit. Serious financial issues, a director swap, unhappy unions, an ambitious start date (less than four months for Jackson to pull everything together), and the looming specter of Jackson’s involvement in Steven Spielberg’s Tintin trilogy has many wondering how Jackson will balance his producing duties over the next several years. Stretched thin, anyone? It’s a recipe for disaster but Peter Jackson does his best work when surrounded by insanity.

File photo from Wenn.com