Peter Jackson will direct 2-part Hobbit in 3D

An official announcement from Warner Bros. names Peter Jackson as the director of a 2-part 3D production based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit. Jackson, who is a co-producer, also wrote the screenplay along with Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro (who was originally slated to direct the film).

Although news that The Hobbit will be filmed in 3D comes as a bit of a surprise, one may have expected it given the push for 3D content following the release of last year’s Avatar.

“Exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth goes way beyond a normal filmmaking experience, it’s an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama,” said Peter Jackson.

Can Jackson pull it off in 3D? One would hope there will be as much focus on quality filmmaking and storytelling as there was in the Lord of the Rings trilogy rather than focus on 3D effects. As with Avatar, The Hobbit should be able to stand well enough on its own in 2D.

New Line Cinema and MGM are still co-producing the films. New Line will handle production management and Warner Bros national distribution. MGM, who was the last to commit due to financial woes, will handle international distribution.

The Hobbit will begin principal photography in February, 2011.

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