The Hobbit inches closer to a greenlight? A warehouse catches fire? 3D?!

To say THE HOBBIT has had its share of difficulties during development would be to put it lightly. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that Peter Jackson was actually Terry Gilliam. Here are the doings that have been transpiring over the weekend...

First, The Hopeful News - Several people close to the production have told the LA Times that Warner Bros, New Line Cinema, and partner MGM "appear to be close to greenlighting" the $500 million two-part prequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

The only thing holding it back at the moment? MGM. Per the Times:

"The one remaining hurdle is getting an official go-ahead from MGM, which is set to co-finance the movies because under a long-standing agreement it owns half the rights and controls international distribution."

"Warner and New Line, which produced the blockbuster 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy and control domestic distribution for 'Hobbit,' are ready to commit their half of the money, said people familiar with the matter. They have been waiting for MGM, which for more than a year has been virtually out of cash and whose debt holders have been trying to decide upon a plan for reorganization."

The long and short of it is that apparently despite the money issues, MGM is "eager" to make the films and could give WB the official okay sometime this week. Should all go well, THE HOBBIT could start filming as early as mid-January.

And now, The Sad News - According to Deadline, a fire reportedly broke out at part of Peter Jackson's workshop in New Zealand where some of THE HOBBIT would have been filmed. Here's Deadline:

"All that's left now is a burned-out warehouse at Jackson's Portsmouth Miniatures Studio which had been used in the past as a specialist miniatures shooting facility, one of the few in the world, to create special effects for his The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong."

Apparently, this setback won't affect the production plans reported by the LA Times.

Finally, The Annoying News - THE HOBBIT will be in 3D.

In an interview last year, former director Guillermo del Toro had this to say about the project and the use of the most polarizing of dimensions: "We are not talking about 3-D, we are not writing the screenplay for 3-D right now. If after Avatar the market may change and demands are put upon us, etc., that is in the future." This was further reinforced just this year as Comic Con attendees cheered at the assurance that THE HOBBIT would stay 2D during one of the Middle Earth-oriented panels. Alas... the NYT reports:

"As 'The Hobbit' now nears a green light, with the director Peter Jackson, after months of behind-the-scenes dealmaking, it emerges, according to a person briefed on the plans (but speaking on the condition of anonymity, as the deal is not yet closed), with the inevitable third dimension."

No word on whether this means the films will be shot in 3D or post-converted.
Extra Tidbit: According to the LA Times, "Warner and MGM have together spent about $45 million on pre-production for 'The Hobbit,' including script fees, visual effects work, set preparations and casting meetings." F*ck me.



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