So, after three years of back-and-forthness, the news is now official: Peter Jackson will be making a film of THE HOBBIT.
Indeed, two films. New Line and MGM finally agreed to a split of the largess that is likely to result, and somehow New Line and Jackson have resolved their acrimonious dispute (no doubt more details on this will be forthcoming in good time). Production starts sometime in 2009, with the first part to hit theaters in 2010 and the second to follow a year later in 2011. Given the tradition set down by the LotR films, I strongly suspect their release dates will be the week before Christmas in each case.
What's not yet clear is whether Jackson will be directing or merely producing.
The news that it'll be two films is interesting, but not unexpected. And it raises the interesting question: where would the best place be to divide the story? This is obviously something I had to give a lot of thought to when we realized THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT wouldn't all fit into one volume. In the end, I went with ending Vol. I with their departure from Lake Town, so that all the scenes at the Lonely Mountain were gathered together in the second volume. But if I were Jackson, I'd place the break between the two films somewhat earlier, with Bilbo's first glimpse of The Lonely Mountain at the very beginning of Chapter X: "The Lonely Mountain! Bilbo had come far and through many adventures to see it, and now he did not like the look of it in the least" (THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT page 241). --For me, that strikes just the right sort of ominous note in switching gears between the journey out and the problem confronting the characters when they finally arrive.
Three years. A long time to wait, but it'll fly by quickly in a constant stream of speculation, news releases, teasers, and the like. Here's hoping they do a good job, keep to Tolkien's story, and in the end produce something as impressive as the LotR films. We'll hope, and we'll see.
current reading: Philip Larkin, FURTHER REQUIREMENTS. (reviews, broadcasts, &c.)