Tuesday, March 23, 2010

'The Hobbit' News: WETA's Richard Taylor on 3D Hobbit | Time-Warner Tops MGM Bids

The Hobbit rumors abound while awaiting news of MGM's new owner and subsequent Hobbit "green light." Oh who will it be? Time-Warner? Will The Hobbit be in 3D?

Award-winning FX man Richard Taylor, the Weta Workshop co-founder recently filled us in on The Hobbit rumors and news. Why did Taylor's friend and colleague Peter Jackson step away from The Hobbit and its sequel after the Lord of the Rings trilogy instead handing the director's gauntlet to Guillermo del Toro? Taylor says it's "probably because he's spent so long in Middle Earth... and probably felt a director such as Guillermo could bring something passionate and unique and original and new to the content for the sake of the fans."

Taylor says there will be consistency for characters that appear in both LOTR and The Hobbit stories, but outside of that is anyone's guess. "It's an absolute delight to be working with Guillermo Del Toro," Taylor says. "We've all enjoyed his craft as seen in Pan's Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies. His unique aesthetic and storytelling style brings a lovely aesthetic to the world and one we're enjoying being part of."

And what about the current 3D rumors? Jackson himself is currently dabbling with 3D on Tintin? Taylor only says that "Like any film, there will be an effort to utilize the tools that are available to us today to achieve visual images that will excite and intrigue an audience as we did try 10 years ago."

With this being said, The Hobbit more than likely will be in 3D in order to satiate rabid, obsessed 3D fans. Is there even a doubt? Not!

Big box retailers are currently rolling out 3D monitors. Avatar and Alice in Wonderland fans will be thrilled to learn that studios have shortened the DVD and Blu-ray release time from four to three months after theatrical release.

James Cameron has confirmed that the DVD and Blu-ray release of Avatar has been set for Earth Day, which is Thursday April 22nd. Cameron has also confirmed that another DVD and Blu-ray version will be rolling around in November. The April release will be extras-light, it seems, while a "value-added DVD" and "3-D Blu-ray" will be coming in November 2010.

Fox has since come along and said that the 3D Blu-ray won't be out then, because "3-D is in the conceptual stage". Fox hasn't confirmed those dates either, but we'd kind of assume that Cameron is the daddy on this one right now.

The Hobbit is scheduled to begin a 14 month production schedule this July in New Zealand.

Though with MGM up for sale the green light will be dependent on MGM getting their finances in order. The studio is being targeted by a series of rival firms following a bidding round, and needs an injection of $450m within weeks

If a buyer cannot be found it’s possible it will have to break up it’s assets and sell them off individually. Studio executives are still hoping to secure new funding to allow the company to continue to exist in its current form.

Six companies made nonbinding bids in January for MGM, which owns the rights to 4,100 movies and TV shows and has a stake in future James Bond and The Hobbit films.

News Corp., the owner of the 20th Century Fox studio, which backed Avatar, made a one-page proposal in January to provide an unspecified amount of cash to help MGM operate independently and restructure its debt, but didn't get a formal response. The offer valued MGM at $1.5 billion, said a person familiar with the offer who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bids are meant to be confidential.

It was confirmed yesterday that Time Warner Inc (TWX.N), Lions Gate Entertainment Corp (LGF.N) and billionaire Len Blavatnik's Access Industries put up rival bids of $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion for studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Time Warner seen as top bidder with about $1.5 billion and is seen as most likely to walk away with MGM and its library of mostly classics, such as the James Bond franchise.

With the decline of the DVD market, and a lack of regular hits, MGM's library is worth far less now, and cash flow has been inadequate to support the debt load. Production slowed to a crawl.

The situation reflects the tough state of Hollywood economics: While mega-budget films like Avatar have broken box office records, the record of middle-budget dramas and comedies has been hit-or-miss for several studios.

Here's hoping the sale of MGM is settled quickly so that The Hobbit (Part 1) can start lensing in July as planned.

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