There's no time to waste... Jackson must seize his chance
Ever since the first film emerged in 2001 and had me (and millions of others) yearning for the next episode in Sam and Frodo's epic adventure, people around the world have fallen in love with Middle-Earth.
As a self-confessed Star Wars child, the Tolkien saga brought back memories of the sheer wonderment of fantasy, be it George Lucas's sprawling space opera or Jackson's clear-eyed (and authentic) adaptation of the great unfilmable book of the 20th century.
I didn't believe it could be possible to revisit those feelings I'd had as a wide-eyed 12-year-old in 1978. Yet, 23 years later, I was enveloped in a feeling of awe at Jackson's rendering of Tolkien's world.
Thus my heart skipped a beat when reports began linking Jackson with The Hobbit – not as a producer, but as director after Mexican auteur Guillermo Del Toro left the project.
The official version of events is that Del Toro, having moved his family to New Zealand in anticipation of filming, baulked at the prospect of having insufficient time to adequately prepare and lens his film. It was a bold move, especially given the two years he had devoted to the project.
Now Jackson may be back on board the ship he steered into cinema history, but only if rights issues can be dealt with to everyone's satisfaction. The fly in the ointment is that the rights rest with MGM, at present in the midst of some serious financial woes.
What Jackson and co need to avoid is the potential trap of releasing their prequel too late. For years Harrison Ford avoided a fourth Indiana Jones flick; by the time it finally emerged he was close to pensionable age. Bruce Willis did something similar with the Die Hard franchise. And no-one cared when De Niro and Pacino reunited as creaky cops in Righteous Kill following their tense stand-off in 1995's Heat. They were too old, too grey, too little, too late.
Audiences can only stand to wait so long. And, sometimes, it's may be best to leave things well alone rather than deliver a pale shadow of what went before. For proof see the Star Wars prequels. And I'm a
Star Wars fan.
Cinema is full of movies that tell us time is fleeting. It's a message that I'm sure Peter Jackson is all too aware of. He has but a breath to make The Hobbit. His cast is ageing, his audience growing older by the day.
Me, I'm willing him on. I want the whole story. I want it to be as special as it was nine years ago. I want Jackson's vision of Tolkien's world. I want wonder, marvel and spectacle on a grand scale. I want to be a child again.
Peter Jackson, are you listening?