Over at Samizdata, Andy Duncan says the following about the prospect of a film of The Hobbit
let's just hope Mr Jackson gets the film rights for 'The Hobbit', to give us something to watch next Christmas.
Sadly, "next Christmas" is much too optimistic. Peter Jackson is making his King Kong remake for Universal next (which is scheduled for 12 December 2005 - remember that a two year gestation period is typical for a big Hollywood film), and he has also said things about making a smaller New Zealand based project at the same time or soon after. He has also mentioned that there have not been enough good zombie films made recently, and has expressed an interest in making one. This may or may not be the same project as his "smaller, New Zealand based project".
The rights for "The Hobbit" are apparently presently split between New Line and MGM (Miramax likely have some rights too, although I think these would be purely financial - they have some right to profit but no right to stop the movie being made). These parties will have to do some kind of a deal before the film can be made. Although this isn't an insurmountable obstacle (films are made by combinations of more than one studio all the time) it does mean that the lawyers of the various parties will have to get together to come up with a completely different deal from the one that applied for the Lord of the Rings before the film can be made. And while it is in the interests of everybody to make such a deal for a film that is a certain moneymaker, this will take time. Plus there is the simple fact that everyone is very tired. Despite the usual two year gestation period for big Hollywood movies, they have made three in three years. Yes, there has been a certain amount of effort saved because the films were shot back to back and were all one long story, but only a certain amount. A lot of things have had to be done separately for each movie. And remember, these have been very big movies.
In short, it would amaze me if this film is in cinemas less than five years from now. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.