So, MGM sells to Sony, gives its home entertainment titles to Fox, and then revamps for a major surge as news out of Variety includes new information on such titles as James Bond 22, The Pink Panther, Thomas Crown 2 and the two-part adaptation of “The Hobbit.”
Information came out of the world premiere of Casino Royale in London in which MGM chief Harry Sloan highlighted the titles I just mentioned. As for what is likely to hustle up into production you are looking at the sequel to Casino Royale, the sequel to The Pink Panther and the follow-up to 1999’s The Thomas Crown Affair.
As for the 22nd film in the James Bond franchise I can tell you they had better move quick and strike while the iron is hot because I saw Casino Royale today and enjoyed every minute of it. As to the details of the film I am sure several Bond fanatics will have ideas, from what I was told by one said fanatic the villain will be… ah, I am not going to ruin it. Next, the sequel to Steve Martin’s Pink Panther is apparently moving along nicely as reports indicate that Martin recently delivered a script where his Inspector Clouseau teams up with equally bumbling detectives from other European countries to defeat a continent-wide crime wave. Shooting is expected to start in February.
And to Thomas Crown, the sequel was originally reported to be called The Topkapi Affair and word was that it would be taking elements from the 1964 Oscar winner Topkapi and would find Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) in a more international setting in which a jeweled dagger is stolen from an Istanbul museum. That news is two years old however, so who knows where the story is at now, but it must be somewhere since Variety reports it is scheduled for a March start, with a likely budget around $100 million.
Now, for what you are probably here for, and news that really changes my earlier stand… The two-part adaptation of “The Hobbit” is still in the works. Granted, this is not a greenlight situation, it is a situation in which Sloan confirmed that MGM was in talks with Peter Jackson to make two movies based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s “prequel” to “The Lord of the Rings.” The two-part thing is what scared me at first, but it isn’t that they are turning “The Hobbit” into two parts, “The Hobbit” would be the first part while the second part would be drawn from “footnotes and source material connecting ‘The Hobbit’ with ‘The Lord of the Rings,'” Sloan said.
Of course, along with negotiations with Jackson there are also those negotiations with New Line, which owns the right to produce “The Hobbit” (MGM only owns the right to distribute the films). And people close to Jackson say that until his ongoing lawsuit with New Line — over monies he says are owed him from the Lord of the Rings franchise – is settled, a serious conversation over “The Hobbit” can not proceed.
While the idea is much more intriguing I am still unsure if we need a “Hobbit” movie. Let’s just leave things as they are, look at the debacle Star Wars turned into. Yeah, it earned a lot of money as would The Hobbit, but I think we all know the prequels are all flawed on countless levels.
The final note in the article was the final nail in the Rocky coffin as Sloan said the upcoming Rocky Balboa will probably be the last installment in that franchise, because Sylvester Stallone’s title character will be too old for the ring. We’ll see soon if that sentiment rings true now just as much as it would then.