Jan 25 2010, 9:42am
No, unfortunately we don't have a greenlight yet and won't until the second script is approved and budgeted. Frustrating, but no studio would greenlight a film without knowing what it's committing to.
No green light, but definite news
I've just posted an analysis of the Variety article on the "Frodo Franchise" blog. Unlike some commentators here, I tend to think Variety's story is probably accurate and based on up-to-date information. New Line probably arranged an interview with Variety in order to let out specific information that they wanted out. The main information is that New Line is doing very well since its absorption by Warner Bros. That's the bulk of the story, and of course it's good publicity for their 2010 slate of films. That's item number one as far as they're concerned.
Item two is to let out some Hobbit info. What that information is and might mean I discuss in the new entry. But I would give a word of caution those on this thread who assume that Peter is in complete control and that only what he says is true. He may be in complete, or at least extensive, control over the filmmaking process, i.e.,so far, pre-production. But he has a massive confidentiality clause in his contract. So does Guillermo and every other person even remotely involved in that production. They cannot tell us everything they know, not by a long way. Whatever they tell us is what they believe they are allowed to. Occasionally they say too much and are reined in. (Guillermo has several times implied that he has been told not to say as much as he had been in interviews and online.)
The last official announcement we had was that Part 1 comes out in 2011. Until a new official announcement comes out, that one stands. I will go out on a limb and say (I already have, actually) that we will see Part 1 in 2012. In the logic of Hollywood, that will only be true when it's official.
One final point. Toby Emmerich says The Hobbit is a big bet for the studio because that's the dramatic way to present this story in the news. He can't say, "Oh, yeah, we're guaranteed a hit, no problem." First, it's not dramatic. Second, on the off-chance that the film is not as big a success as LOTR, Emmerich looks like a fool. The studio has already committed to the film (short of a greenlight), so it has announced that it believes it will be a success. If it's a huge success, they were right; if it's not, they bravely took a risk. That's the way publicity stories are crafted. It's not an opinion, it's a slant on a story. (In Chapter 1 of my book I analyze the whole business about LOTR being considered a huge gamble by New Line. That, too, was a publicity image.)