Inside sources are indicating that Peter Jackson is signing on to direct the two Hobbit movies. The final agreement is reportedly being negotiated with Warner Bros, New Line, and MGM. Guillermo del Toro recently removed himself from the directorial duties of the Hobbit movies, which are set to be filmed back-to-back.

“Despite Jackson camp denials that directing was a consideration, there were signs for cautious optimism from the moment del Toro bowed out. More recently, there have been major clues,” writes Mike Fleming. “While several directors have angled for the job — the most recent rumors focused on David Yates and Jackson’s District 9 protege Neill Blomkamp — no offer was ever made. I think that’s because Jackson was figuring out if he wanted to direct two more films, and finish the saga he started with The Lord of the Rings. And then once he decided, Kamins had to make it possible. It became more evident this week: he, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens scheduled a trip to London the week of July 4, followed by a trip to Los Angeles the following week. They will meet the most impressive actors who’ve been put on tape by casting directors. Jackson, Walsh and Boyens wrote the scripts with del Toro, and they did the original trilogy together. But if they intended for someone else to direct, they would have made sure the filmmaker was part of the casting process.”

“Jackson is the natural person to take over, given that he directed the original Lord of the Rings trilogy and his intimate involvement with the Hobbit project. The two Hobbit movies are set to release December 2012 and December 2013.”

“Numerous directors wanted the job, but hiring a star on Jackson’s level would have been difficult. Raimi, who is working on the Warner Bros/Legendary vidgame adaptation Warcraft and the Disney film The Great and Powerful Oz, was busy and would likely not return to a project for which he’d gotten passed over. Most of the other star directors like Alfonso Cuaron, Chris Nolan, Spielberg or Bryan Singer are busy on their own projects. In addition, it would be difficult to pay them properly, because of the amount of first dollar gross already committed to Jackson, the Tolkien estate, rights holder Saul Zaentz and Harvey Weinstein, who held the 5 percent gross stake he had in the original trilogy. That’s when Michael Eisner refused his request for Miramax to make the films with Jackson, and Weinstein gave the filmmaker a short window to find another home for the project. That window was almost closed when New Line founder Bob Shaye said yes to three films. Jackson will have his deal sweetened, but he’s already completely invested in the process and there are built-in efficiencies. The films will use the soundstages and visual effects facilities that Jackson built with proceeds from the LOTR proceeds.”

Source: Deadline