On The Hobbit and The White Council

I wrote a month ago about the Electronic Arts video game, Lord of the Rings: The White Council, and how reports had it that EA had pulled the plug on the game.

Well, not quite.

According to a news blurb at TheOneRing.net:

Today, during a postearnings call, EA CFO Warren Jenson confirmed that The White Council is not canceled–but that work on it has been indefinitely suspended. “The Lord of the Rings product is back in development in terms of being on hold,” he cryptically told an analyst who asked whether or not the game had been canceled outright.

It’s not the most positive sign that The White Council will still be released, but it’s a sign. Maybe not in time for Christmas, perhaps not until sometime next year. Suffice it to say, I’ll be watching this.

In other Lord of the Rings news, I read an interesting essay by Greg Wright at TheOneRing on the planned Hobbit films.

As I don’t think I’ve written of the Hobbit films here–except for the animated Hobbit, that is–let me summarize briefly some of the doings where The Hobbit is concerned.

New Line Cinemas currently has the rights to produce a film based on The Hobbit. MGM currently has the rights to distribute a Hobbit film. The two studios got together, and developed a plan–they wanted two films based on the Hobbit. The first would be a straightforward adaptation of the book. The second would be a movie that bridged the story from The Hobbit to Fellowship of the Rings, a Lord of the Rings prequel basically.

MGM wants Peter Jackson to direct. And frankly, who wouldn’t? Look at his success with the three Lord of the Rings films. Clearly, the man knows his stuff.

Unfortunately, New Line informed Jackson his services wouldn’t be required. Why? Because Jackson had the temerity to file a lawsuit against New Line when an audit of accounting on Fellowship turned up irregularities that reduced the payment he and his production company received for the film. Basically, Jackson wants to make sure he was paid fairly for his work and profits fairly from it. But as he’s suing New Line, they want nothing do with Jackson. And frankly, I can see where they’re coming from.

Wright’s essay goes into a lot more detail on the situation between Jackson, New Line, and MGM. From a business perspective he concludes thusly: “The smart money is on Jackson making both The Hobbit and the other planned film, and making them with New Line. Will that take place “on Shaye’s watch”? Maybe not. But since New Line has got corporate masters who may be even more demanding than Shaye, that may just mean bad news for Shaye—and good news for Tolkien film fans.”

(Though I would like to see Jackson tackle Temeraire sooner rather than later, and the Hobbit films could push Temeraire until the early part of the next decade. I know who I’d cast as Lawrence in Temeraire–Rufus Sewell. Peter Jackson, are you reading? There’s your casting. ;))

What I find more interesting than his analysis of the situation among the three parties is Wright’s speculation on what the “bridge” movie between The Hobbit and Fellowship might comprise. Obviously it’s pure speculation what could be in the film, but Wright probably has some of ideas that will be ultimately pursued–from the hunt for Gollum to the attack on Sauron’s fortress of Dol Guldur. One angle that occurred to me while reading the article was the rise of Denethor, perhaps his discovery of the Palantir and his encounter with Sauron through the ancient seeing stone. Interesting speculation, nonetheless.

I began wondering about the marketing of the Hobbit films. The first, obviously, would see yet another round of reprints of the Tolkien books, with new covers drawn from the new film. But what about the second? It’s basically an original story that draws upon The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but it’s not based directly on any one Tolkien story. Would it, could it be novelized? A non-Tolkien Middle-Earth novel? Frankly, I’m quite tantalized by that possibility. But who to write it?

For Tolkien fans, then, there’s still hope. For The White Council. For the Hobbit films. All we need is a little patience. 🙂

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