Peter Jackson expected to direct “The Hobbit”

Let bursts of joy echo throughout Middle Earth, for Peter Jackson is negotiating with Warner Bros/New Line/MGM to direct both installments of “The Hobbit.” The original Lord of the Rings trilogy director was producing and advising the oft-delayed project, but when those delays caused Guillermo Del Toro to abandon his post as director, the search desperately began to fill the void to keep the target release dates in 2012 and 2013 intact.

Speculation ranged from last-three Harry Potters director David Yates to “District 9’s” Neill Blomkamp in terms of finding a replacement, but Deadline believes Jackson was expected to take reigns for some time now. Previously, Jackson’s people denied the rumors of his involvement as director because of his obligations toward other projects, but it appears Jackson merely needed time to sever those ties before he could negotiate his contract for the job. Deadline is also speculating that Jackson has already scheduled trips to London and Los Angeles to check out the best audition tapes, so the deal is merely being finalized.

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