Those looking forward to the upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit have probably been rather confused and quite irritated at all the back and forth news regarding the production of the movie. No sooner than we hear word that three of the main cast members are returning do we hear that no actors are confirmed; we hear that Tobey Maguire is in talks to play Bilbo Baggins, then he isn’t; we hear the movie is going to start shooting this summer but oh no, it’s been delayed till the end of the year.

It’s gotten to the point where we don’t really know who to believe when it comes to news about The Hobbit.

However, if anyone’s going to be trusted more than others it’s the people directly involved with the film. In a new update to the whole “Will it, won’t it?” Hobbit situation, producer Peter Jackson spoke to Moviefone about it during a interview promoting The Lovely Bones DVD. What Jackson said may disappoint but necessarily surprise those who have been closely followings The Hobbit news.

Before we get to the quotes, the gist of what Jackson reveals is that even though the second script is now complete and has been handed into the studio (the first script was handed in a while back), the film has not yet been officially greenlit by the studio. Here’s what Jackson said:

“It’s not really been delayed, because we’ve never announced the date. I mean it’s sort of interesting because the studio [MGM] has never greenlit ‘The Hobbit,’ so therefore ‘The Hobbit’ has never been officially announced as a “go” project, nor have we ever announced a date.”

“We’ve just delivered the script. Literally last week, we delivered the second of the two screenplays — the first draft. So the studio’s got both scripts now, which is a milestone; and if anything was holding it up, it was us doing the screenplays, because we’d just been writing as fast as we can, but it took us this long to get them finished. So we take whatever responsibility there is for the speed. And we’re now in the process of budgeting the films, and then hopefully we’ll get to a budget the studio [people] are happy with, and they’ll greenlight the movies and we’ll announce the shooting dates. I’d be pretty optimistic that we’ll be shooting before the end of the year. I would imagine October, November, we’d be shooting by. I’m NOT announcing it, though.”

The likely reason The Hobbit has not yet been greenlit by MGM is because of their current financial predicament (that’s a soft word to use about the whole situation). The last we reported on MGM’s financial woes it appeared it had delayed The Hobbit until the end of 2010 after Ian McKellen (who supposedly was the only actor confirmed to be returning) “confirmed” a summer shooting start date. However, according to Jackson, the film hasn’t been delayed because they never officially announced any date.

[Sigh]…

Moving on to casting for The Hobbit, Jackson confirms what has been said previously by either himself or Hobbit director Peter Jackson – no actors have been cast. According to Jackson in this interview, they’ve done a little bit of auditioning (they’re casting a wide net to find the right actors). He says that people think they’ve been doing some sort of secret casting when they haven’t. It’s not something they could do until this thing gets the go-ahead from the guys up top.

Lastly, Jackson directly answered the question of whether any of the actors we’ve previously heard about returning are in fact returning. He said that there have been no deals with any actors to come back, even Ian McKellen who we thought was absolutely confirmed to come back as Gandalf. I still think the likes of McKellen and Andy Serkis (who played Gollum/Smeagol in motion-capture form in LOTR) will return but at this point it’s “very likely” and not “definitely.”

I guess we’ll have to wait for MGM to be sold off at auction before The Hobbit can officially be greenlit and we can start hearing word of official dates and casting announcements. For now we’re left to give our thoughts on the whole back and forth nature of the news that crops up regularly.

What do you make of the latest Hobbit update from Peter Jackson? Surprised? Annoyed? Indifferent? Sound off in the comments below.

We’re still no quite sure when The Hobbit will start shooting or when it will be released. With regards to the latter, the general dates of December, 2011 for Part 1 and December, 2012 for Part 2 have been floating around for quite a while.

Source: Moviefone (via Coming Soon)