Hobbit script is done: Peter Jackson says what's next

Peter Jackson, who is producing the two Hobbit movies, spoke with Moviefone to clear up those rumors about a start date, casting and whether the movies are delayed.

About the only thing he'll confirm is that the script for the two proposed movies is now complete:

"We've just delivered the script. Literally last week, we delivered the second of the two screenplays -- the first draft. So the studio's got both scripts now, which is a milestone; and if anything was holding it up, it was us doing the screenplays, because we'd just been writing as fast as we can, but it took us this long to get them finished. So we take whatever responsibility there is for the speed. And we're now in the process of budgeting the films, and then hopefully we'll get to a budget the studio [people] are happy with, and they'll greenlight the movies and we'll announce the shooting dates. I'd be pretty optimistic that we'll be shooting before the end of the year. I would imagine October, November, we'd be shooting by. I'm not announcing it, though."

One big hangup, of course, is the fate of MGM, one of the studios that holds the rights. It's still being sorted out how the financially troubled studio will be saved, and that means there's no green light yet for the Hobbit movies.

"Well, it's not really been delayed, because we've never announced the date," Jackson told the site. "I mean it's sort of interesting because the studio [MGM] has never greenlit The Hobbit, so therefore The Hobbit has never been officially announced as a 'go' project, nor have we ever announced a date. But there's so much interest that people—newspapers and magazines, of their own account, say, ah, it's likely to film in May, it's likely to film in June, it's likely to film in September. People make this stuff up. And then if it's not filming in June, you get a story saying, 'The Hobbit's been delayed.' But it's never actually been announced."

Until the production receives a green light, producers can't cast or set up a schedule, Jackson added. "But I would imagine that if we get a green light within the next month or two, we would be hopefully making some casting announcements by, I guess, the middle of the year. We've done a little bit of auditioning, but we haven't really done any meetings with actors or anything yet. We've just been totally committed to the scripts. Everything's a little bit later than what people assume it is. I think people think we've been sort of doing secret casting."

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