"Mercy!" cried Gandalf: "if the giving of
information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend
all the rest of my days in answering you. What do you want to know?"
22 November 2006
Q. Have you seen Peter Jackson's announcement that he is withdrawing
from "The Hobbit" movie? And what is your reaction, please?
A. Here is Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh's announcement
in full, which they mailed to me and
theonering.net. As you
can tell it's not so much a "withdrawal", but rather what he feels to be
an impossible situation imposed on him.
Dear One Ringers,
As you know, there's been a lot of speculation about The Hobbit. We are
often asked about when or if this film will ever be made. We have always
responded that we would be very interested in making the film - if it
were offered to us to make.
You may also be aware that Wingnut Films has bought a lawsuit against
New Line, which resulted from an audit we undertook on part of the
income of The Fellowship of the Ring. Our attitude with the lawsuit has
always been that since it's largely based on differences of opinion
about certain accounting practices, we would like an independent body -
whether it be a judge, a jury, or a mediator, to look at the issues and
make an unbiased ruling. We are happy to accept whatever that ruling is.
In our minds, it's not much more complex than that and that's exactly
why film contracts include right-to-audit clauses.
However, we have always said that we do not want to discuss The Hobbit
with New Line until the lawsuit over New Line's accounting practices is
resolved. This is simple common sense - you cannot be in a relationship
with a film studio, making a complex, expensive movie and dealing with
all the pressures and responsibilities that come with the job, while an
unresolved lawsuit exists.
We have also said that we do not want to tie settlement of the lawsuit
to making a film of The Hobbit. In other words, we would have to agree
to make The Hobbit as a condition of New Line settling our lawsuit. In
our minds this is not the right reason to make a film and if a film of
The Hobbit went ahead on this basis, it would be doomed. Deciding to
make a movie should come from the heart - it's not a matter of business
convenience. When you agree to make a film, you're taking on a massive
commitment and you need to be driven by an absolute passion to want to
get the story on screen. It's that passion, and passion alone, that
gives the movie its imagination and heart. To us it is not a
cold-blooded business decision.
A couple of months ago there was a flurry of Hobbit news in the media.
MGM, who own a portion of the film rights in The Hobbit, publicly stated
they wanted to make the film with us. It was a little weird at the time
because nobody from New Line had ever spoken to us about making a film
of The Hobbit and the media had some fun with that. Within a week or two
of those stories, our Manager Ken Kamins got a call from the
co-president of New Line Cinema, Michael Lynne, who in essence told Ken
that the way to settle the lawsuit was to get a commitment from us to
make the Hobbit, because "that's how these things are done". Michael
Lynne said we would stand to make much more money if we tied the lawsuit
and the movie deal together and this may well be true, but it's still
the worst reason in the world to agree to make a film.
Several years ago, Mark Ordesky told us that New Line have rights to
make not just The Hobbit but a second "LOTR prequel", covering the
events leading up to those depicted in LOTR. Since then, we've always
assumed that we would be asked to make The Hobbit and possibly this
second film, back to back, as we did the original movies. We assumed
that our lawsuit with the studio would come to a natural conclusion and
we would then be free to discuss our ideas with the studio, get excited
and jump on board. We've assumed that we would possibly get started on
development and design next year, whilst filming The Lovely Bones. We
even had a meeting planned with MGM executives to talk through our
However last week, Mark Ordesky called Ken and told him that New Line
would no longer be requiring our services on the Hobbit and the LOTR
'prequel'. This was a courtesy call to let us know that the studio was
now actively looking to hire another filmmaker for both projects.
Ordesky said that New Line has a limited time option on the film rights
they have obtained from Saul Zaentz (this has never been conveyed to us
before), and because we won't discuss making the movies until the
lawsuit is resolved, the studio is going to have to hire another
Given that New Line are committed to this course of action, we felt at
the very least, we owed you, the fans, a straightforward account of
events as they have unfolded for us.
We have always had the greatest support from The Ringers and we are very
sorry our involvement with The Hobbit has been ended in this way. Our
journey into Tolkien's world started with a phone call from Ken Kamins
to Harvey Weinstein in Nov 1995 and ended with a phone call from Mark
Ordesky to Ken in Nov 2006. It has been a great 11 years.
This outcome is not what we anticipated or wanted, but neither do we see
any positive value in bitterness and rancor. We now have no choice but
to let the idea of a film of The Hobbit go and move forward with other
We send our very best wishes to whomever has the privilege of making The
Hobbit and look forward to seeing the film on the big screen.
Warmest regards to you all, and thanks for your incredible support over
We got to go there - but not back again ...
Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh
The LOTR fans are already expressing a sense of
betrayal. On my own account, I am very sad as I should have
relished re-visiting Middle-earth with Peter again as team-leader.
It's hard to imagine any other director matching his achievement in
Tolkien country. We will have to await developments but being an
optimist I am hoping that New Line, MGM and Wingnut can settle
outstanding problems so that the long expected "Hobbit" is filmed sooner
rather than later.
Q: Me and two friends made a 6 day trip to London lately and as two
of us are real fans of LotR and Tolkien, we decided to go to Oxford
for a day to visit his grave, a very interesting experience which
affected me deeply. We stayed there for about half an hour barely
talking and we lit some candles. Somehow we felt terrible sad and
happy at the same time knowing to be so close to whom at least I think
of as the greatest author ever. I wondered whether you have been to
Oxford some time and if so whether you or any other of the actors of
the LotR movies have ever been there to have a look at where Tolkien
lived and in particular whether you or any of the others have been to
see his grave.
A: I know Oxford well and have acted there regularly
but have not seen Tolkien's grave. Christopher Lee is proud that
he briefly met Tolkien in an Oxford pub. But I'm not aware that any of
the cast have yet made that particular pilgrimage.
Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in
The Lord of the Rings