Warner Brothers Takes Over ‘The Hobbit’

In return for fully funding the two films, Warner Brothers will distribute 'The Hobbit' worldwide.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Warner Brothers Takes Over 'The Hobbit'

The protracted bankruptcy of MGM nearly derailed "The Hobbit" and caused the original director Guillermo del Toro to leave the project after several delays. But now that the film is finally moving forward, Warner Brothers is stepping up to pick up the slack.

Warner Brothers and MGM have announced that they have settled upon a deal that gives Warner Brothers the full international theatrical and video distribution rights for "The Hobbit." The two companies were obligated to work together on "The Hobbit" because MGM previously owned the distribution rights and Warner Brothers had the rights to actually make the films. MGM will reportedly retain the international television rights for the two "Hobbit" movies.

However, the deal didn’t come without a high price. Deadline is reporting that Warner Brothers will put up the project’s entire $500 million budget alone. The site also notes that deals with returning cast members Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis (as Gandolf and Gollum, respectively) are not yet in place. Additionally, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom are also rumored to be in talks to return as well.

Following del Toro’s departure, "Lord of The Rings" director Peter Jackson has taken on the prequel project as well, casting Martin Freeman ("Sherlock") as the title character, Bilbo Baggins.

The story follows Bilbo’s unlikely adventures with a company of dwarves, who will be played by Richard Armitage ("Captain America: The First Avenger"), Aidan Turner ("Being Human"), Rob Kazinsky ("EastEnders"), Graham McTavish ("Secretariat"), John Callen ("Power Rangers Jungle Fury"), Stephen Hunter ("All Saints"), Mark Hadlow ("King Kong"), Peter Hambleton ("The Strip"), James Nesbitt ("Jekyll") and newcomer, Adam Brown.

"The Hobbit" is expected to begin production in New Zealand next month with the first film slated to hit theaters in December 2012.