Despite achieving both blockbuster success and critical hosannas on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, which earned more than $3 billion at the box office and 17 Oscars between them, director Peter Jackson may be out of consideration to helm further LOTR movies including the still unfilmed prequel, The Hobbit. The dispute has its roots in a lawsuit between Jackson and New Line Cinema, which produced the trilogy, over how much Jackson should have been paid for his work on the movies. New Line still holds the rights to film both The Hobbit and a second, unnamed LOTR prequel. Jackson posted a message on website theonering.net informing fans that an executive from New Line called Jackson's office to say "that New Line would no longer be requiring our services on The Hobbit and the LOTR 'prequel" … This was a courtesy call to let us know that the studio was now actively looking to hire another filmmaker for both projects." Jackson refuses to consider working with New Line until the lawsuit is resolved; for its part, the studio claims that it needs to move forward on the films now or the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's books will revert to producer Saul Zaentz. Complicating matters, however, is the fact that MGM, which owns the distribution rights for the series, still wants Jackson attached to the project, according to a recent story in Variety, which quoted an MGM spokesman as saying that "the matter … is far from closed."

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