New Hope Jackson Will Return for 'The Hobbit'

It may take another quest to the Crack of Doom, but there's new hope that Peter Jackson will return to direct "The Hobbit" and another "Lord of the Rings" prequel.

"Lord of the Rings" fans were in a frenzy last week, following the announcement from Jackson that New Line Cinema had sent a letter informing him that the film studio "would no longer be requiring our services on the 'Hobbit' and the 'LOTR' prequel."

Now, the producer who owns the screen rights to "Rings" writer J.R.R. Tolkien is telling German Web site that Jackson will be back, once New Line's contract expires.

"It will definitely be shot by Peter Jackson," said Saul Zaentz, whose company owns Tolkien Enterprises.

"Next year, 'The Hobbit' rights will fall back to my company. I suppose that Peter will wait because he knows that he will make the best deal with us. And he is fed up with the studios. To get his profit share on the 'Rings' trilogy, he had to sue New Line."

The wildly successful trilogy has grossed more than $3 billion worldwide. Jackson and the studio are at odds over accounting practices. In a lawsuit, the director has asked a third party to intervene.

"With us," Zaentz told the Web site, "he knows that he will be paid fairly and artistically supported without reservation."

Gandalf Hopes Jackson Works Magic

A spokesman for Zaentz's company could not confirm Zaentz's comments, telling that the producer was traveling. Jackson's media representative did not return a call on this matter.

Zaentz has produced such films as "Amadeus" and "The English Patient."

Science fiction Web site was abuzz with the story. New Line had announced the project earlier in November, with an eye on releasing it in 2009.

Following news of the Jackson-New Line feud last week, actor Sir Ian McKellen announced his disappointment.

"On my own account, I am very sad as I should have relished revisiting Middle Earth with Peter again as team leader. It's hard to imagine any other director matching his achievement in Tolkien country," he said in a posting on his official site, which was excerpted on Dark Horizons.

McKellen is widely expected to reprise his role as Gandalf.

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