MGM and Warner Bros. have reached a deal that gives WB the rights to handle international theatrical and video distribution on "The Hobbit". MGM will retain international television licensing for the movie, which is split into two parts. Words are, WB pays the entire cost of the project which has a price-tag expected to exceed $500 million.
In related news, Deadline Hollywood talks about "Lord of the Rings" cast who would appear in "The Hobbit". In addition to Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis and Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood is now reported to join Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and reprise his role as Frodo.
McKellen, Serkis and Bloom have been rumored to return as Gandalf, Gollum and Legolas respectively. In the meantime, Hugo Weaving is expected to return as Lord Elrond. However, the only "LOTR" cast who has been officially announced as part of "The Hobbit" is Cate Blanchett who will once again portray Galadriel aka Lady of Lothlorien.
"The Hobbit" and "The Hobbit 2" will be shot back to back with principal photography planned to be kicked off in February 2011 in New Zealand. The first film is scheduled for December 2012 release and the second film will follow a year later. Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro team up to write the script. Martin Freeman takes the lead role of Bilbo Baggins.