It appears that several sites are breaking the news simultaneously, but really, it's something we've all just been waiting to hear now for a while anyway: Peter Jackson will direct "The Hobbit."
It's not official, no, but even when the news first broke about Guillermo Del Toro leaving the project so he could return to the States and get back to work on his own films, my first thought was that Peter would probably end up making the films.
I've been a fan of Jackson's work since the days of "Dead Alive," and when I say that he sort of needs to make "The Hobbit," I'm not running him down. It's just that he came off of "Return Of The King" one of the most powerful filmmakers in town. The perception was that he was invulnerable, the new King of the Geeks. He went directly into his dream project, "King Kong," and while I still think Kong is one of the few truly great digital characters ever created, and there is a lot of good in that film, it was messy. Messy enough that it started to dent his reputation. And again... I liked "The Lovely Bones," but there's no denying that the film hurt Peter. Critically dented, commercially dented, the Peter Jackson of right this minute is not the Peter Jackson from Oscar Night 2004, arms full of acclaim, that you see in the photo attached to this story. At that point, moving on from Middle Earth seemed as natural a decision as he could possibly make.