Maybe it’s the economic climate, or maybe it’s because there’s just more creative divergence in Hollywood between the studio chiefs and filmmakers, but it looks like even sure things like franchise pictures are no longer a certainty. With Spider-Man getting the reboot treatment and Paul Greengrass ditching the Bourne series (along with star Matt Damon) the ever-reliable Hollywood mantra of  “making a sequel” seems to be waning. Now it looks like Guillermo Del Toro’s two-part adaptation of The Hobbit is set to be delayed until the “fourth quarter of 2012.”

Toby Emmerich, the head of New Line Cinema, one of the studios behind The Hobbit (along with MGM) and Warner Bro big cheese Alan Horn spoke about the company and where the Lord of the Rings prequels sit on its corporate structure.

With regards to the pre-production of The Hobbit, Emmerich said:

“It’s similar [to The Lord of The Rings], though this is more expensive and much more of a known entity. It’s a big bet for us. But it’s one we think will pay off given the success of Lord of the Rings. This is one of the few movies it feels like people are waiting for.”

New Line Cinema was once an independent branch of Time-Warner, but when the studio had a string of major duds following the Peter Jackson helmed Oscar-winning franchise, it was folded into Warner Bros as a production shingle making around six films a year. Now, after a series of hit films New Line appears to be getting back up on its feet.

Warner Bros head Alan Horn seems happy with the new, New Line. Horn said:

“We are feeling pretty good about our relationship with these guys. The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding tastes pretty good. They have their own sensibilities, and it gives us a diversified slate. This is very much a collaborative partnership so that if Toby wants to do a film it’s a long way down the road toward getting a greenlight.”

Horn however, indicated to Variety that the first Hobbit film would probably open in the fourth quarter of 2012 – about 11 years after The Fellowship of the Ring. Now, while it doesn’t indicate that the film is in trouble, it may mean that the film is being slowed down due to partner MGM’s sale – much like the next James Bond film.

It was believed that the film would open in 2011 – a decade after Frodo and friends went on their fellowship, and it’s believed that the film would be shooting in the coming months.

It could be that Horn meant that the second Hobbit film would open in 2012 and Variety misconstrued his words, or it could be that Del Toro needs more post production time on the film. At this point, it’s uncertain.

However, the question that has to be asked is: Will mainstream audiences still be interested in JRR Tolkien’s world a decade after it first hit the screens?

Source: Variety