Peter Jackson may be returning to take command of Middle Earth. The Wrap has reported that Jackson is close to finalizing a deal to direct 'The Hobbit' films as MGM and Warner Bros. get closer to greenlighting production.

Jackson, who wanted to write and produce and not direct the two upcoming 'Hobbit' outings, has decided to jump on board after Guillermo del Toro dropped out at the end of May. Del Toro will stay on as a writer, however.

In addition to many delays, pre-production on 'The Hobbit' has been hampered by a lawsuit from the Tolkien heirs, the insolvency of MGM (which owns half the franchise) and recent posturings by the Screen Actors Guild, who were angered at reports that the New Zealand production would not be using guild members. (The prime minister of New Zealand has stepped in to help resolve the conflict).

Time is money for Hollywood, and rumor has it that final deals will materialize this week. In the meantime, sets have already been built in New Zealand and, according to The Wrap, about $30 million has already been spent on the project.

Plus, the high profile cast -- Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, Ron Perlman, Doug Jones and Andy Serkis -- are getting antsy about the start of filming, which is tentatively set for January and would last for several months.

If all goes well, 'Hobbit: Part 1' would be released in mid-December 2012, the second a year later -- both possibly in 3-D (there have been conflicting reports on that, but on Monday The New York Times reported that rumor as fact). MGM will distribute the films overseas, while Warner's New Line division would be the domestic distributor.
CATEGORIES Movies, Cinematical