Gandalf Ponders MGM's Future
May 28th, 2010: The Hobbit in Limbo
Earlier today, while giving a press conference about his latest movie, Splice, writer-director Guillermo del Toro was asked about The Hobbit start date.
"It's not greenlit," said Senor del Toro. "That's categorical; we've been caught in a very tangled negotiation. There cannot be any start dates until the MGM situation gets resolved. They do hold a considerable portion of the screen rights. We've designed all the creatures. We've designed all the sets and costumes, we've done all the animatics and we've planned the key battle sequences. We are very, very prepared for the moment when it is FINALLY triggered."
No mention of casting, as without a start date, they cannot expect anyone to commit pen to paper. And speaking of commitment, just how long will two of the world's most sought-after filmmakers hang around in limbo, while Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer waits to find a potential buyer? The time already invested in the project means that neither Peter Jackson nor del Toro would probably walk away from The Hobbit; however, both may move on to other projects while they wait, which could possibly result in the announcement of further delays.
MGM has been up for sale to the highest bidder since the end of last year. The problem is that, with debts exceeding over $4 billion, there are no bidders. Its three biggest assets are its library of over 4000 feature films, the James Bond and Pink Panther franchises, and their share of The Hobbit; speculation holds that they may be forced to break up and then sell all of the above on an individual basis to stave off bankruptcy.
del Toro was also asked about rumors concerning the conversion of The Hobbit into a 3-D film; his response was that, while such a possibility had been discussed at one point, the budgeting had been worked out without the benefit of any digital stereoscopic effects on the movie.
As you can clearly imagine, unless and until the MGM situation is properly dealt with, the truth is that there can be no Hobbit movie. One wonders, then, what mighty Louis B. Mayer himself would say were he to see his beloved Metro so demolished in this manner? And, indeed, why have the heirs to J.R.R. Tolkien's estate so determined themselves to dissuade themselves from the fans in the manner that they did when they stated that their father's Ring stories were "cult books"?
Even I, Gandalf, am loathe to speculate. Methinks that the fear is that the power will be such that ultimately The Hobbit may, alas, be canceled entirely. So, barring some sort of miracle --- and I myself doubt that, even at my expanded age, I can still come up with one --- I fear, dear fans, you and I shall have to remain stuck with Rankin/Bass' The Hobbit for the forseeable future. If, in the end, we must bid farewell in this manner, I can only say: Blessings and farewell unto ye, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. You made much magic for the whole world, and you will be sorely missed.....