In an article at Variety talking about New Line Cinema, which two years ago became a unit under Warner Bros. Pictures, studio executive Alan Horn reveals that the first of the two Hobbit films may not hit theaters until late 2012, a full year after the previously-announced December 2011 release:
Once the script for the second film is in — Jackson and his longtime collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are working on it with Del Toro — New Line will work up a budget for both films and start casting. New Line exec Michael Disco, who was once Emmerich’s assistant, will oversee for the studio.
Horn won’t predict when the first of the two “Hobbit” films will be out, but says the most probable scenario would be a release in the fourth quarter of 2012.
“It’s a big bet for us. But it’s one we think will pay off given the success of ‘Lord of the Rings,'” says Emmerich. “This is one of the few movies it feels like people are waiting for.”
New Line’s original plan was to release the first film in December 2011, followed by the second one in December 2012. One reason for the delay may be the restructuring of MGM, which shares the financing rights with New Line for the “Hobbit” films. MGM is currently accepting bids for the studio and those rights may go to another studio (Warner Bros. is said to be one of the bidders).