Cumberbatch is Smaug! (h/t @Sherlockology)

Buried at the end of this tidbit about Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch being cast as principal villain in the next Star Trek movie, is this awesome news: Cumberbatch will be the voice, and the body (based on motion-capture) of the mighty Smaug in The Hobbit!

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as the principal villain in the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek, according to Variety and trekmovie.com.

A source is quoted as saying that the 35-year-old impressed director JJ Abrams and his team with an audition that “blew them all away”. Benicio Del Toro had been previously considered for the role of chief adversary but talks apparently broke down about a month ago.

Cumberbatch’s most recent big-screen projects include Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and War Horse, and he will also be providing the voice and motion-capture for Smaug the dragon in Peter Jackson’s forthcoming Hobbit film. Filming is expected to begin on the Star Trek sequel in a couple of weeks, with the movie scheduled for release in 2013.

Frankly the Star Trek news is less interesting, though the movie will be better for having Cumberbatch run amok in it. I discount the rumor that the baddie is Khan as the timeline would require it to be Space Seed and not Wrath, and let’s face it, Space Seed was pretty lame. Also, I personally believe that the events of Star Trek: First Contact created the new timeline well before Spock’s return, which is why suddenly we had an Archer-captained Enterprise come into existence, and so the entire Trek prehistory is probably askew anyway. And if they are going to use Khan anyway, then there’s absolutely no excuse for not using an Indian actor – my preference is Shah Rukh Khan, but Fahran Tahrir would also do nicely. But I digress. Cumberbatch! Smaug! OMFG!

Hobbit Watson – a Freeman

I was seriously depressed when I found out that there were only three episodes of Sherlock filmed as yet. I caught this series on a plane, actually, and was ready to go a-torrenting for the backlog, only to find I’d exhausted it. It’s as good as Dr. Who, as I’ve raved before. Unfortunately the big hold-up seemed to be that actor Martin Freeman (playing John Watson) had commitments to another big story I am anticipating – The Hobbit.

Well, looks like that’s all resolved:

there was a worry that Freeman wouldn’t be able to film The Hobbit in New Zealand due to commitments to the BBC series Sherlock. That has all been worked out, apparently. “I know my work plan,” Freeman said. “I start in January, then I’ll have a break in the summer so I can shoot the second season of Sherlock, the BBC show where I portray Watson, and then I’ll be back in New Zealand in September in order to finish the movie by the end of the year.”

Filming for the Hobbit starts now, and filming for Sherlock in the summer – with Dr Who to tide us over until then. And then Sherlock in the fall, and The Hobbit next year.

Life is good. I will barely miss Stargate Universe. (well, that’s not entirely true…)

UPDATE: from the article,

So wait, when The Hobbit comes out, Freeman will have played Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker’s Guide, Watson, and Bilbo Baggins. I mean that’s like a nerd trifecta.

Heh. Though with regards to Arthur Dent, let me quote Miracle Max: “and thank you for bringing up such a painful subject. While you’re at it, why don’t you just give me a paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?”

down the Hobbit Hole

Looks like the Hobbit movie is still on hold, awaiting the fate of the MGM studio being sold to clarify the rights situation. Director Guillermo del Toro himself lays out the status, via AICN:

Q: We’ve been following your production of THE HOBBIT, and every time the production gets delayed. Do you know when you’re actually going to start and get on set?

Guillermo del Toro: There cannot be any start dates really until the MGM situation is resolved, because they do hold a considerable portion of the rights, and it’s impossible to make a unilateral decision by New Line or Warners to give the greenlight to proceed. We really believe that things will be known after the fact of MGM’s fate. Whether they stay and get supported, or they get bought, or they transfer some of the rights: nobody knows. We’ve been caught in a very tangled negotiation.

Now I’ve been on the project for nearly two years. We have designed all the creatures; we have designed the sets and wardrobes; we have done animatics and planned very lengthy action sequences and scary sequences and funny sequences. We are very, very prepared for when it’s finally triggered, but we don’t know anything is sold.

Q: The story that was reported earlier today that THE HOBBIT has been greenlit and will be shot in 3D, that is false?

Del Toro: On both counts, there are no final answers. It is not greenlit. That is categorical. And 3D has been discussed literally once in the room. The budget and the schedule and everything that we are handling – the cost of the film, the number of days it would take to shoot – is being handled right now without looking towards 3D. Is there a chance it will become 3D in the future? Maybe. Right now, it’s not being planned as such.

Well, there’s still the World of Warcraft movie to look forward to.

Back to Middle Earth this July

Filming for The Hobbit (parts 1 and 2, back to back) begins in July!

On his website, Ian McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf, announced that “The Hobbit’s two films start shooting in New Zealand in July. Filming will take over a year. Casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started. The script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth. The director Guillermo del Toro is now living in Wellington, close to the Jacksons’ and the studio in Miramar.”

In another report from New Zealand, an insider says The Hobbit will be filmed in 3D.

Remember back in the days they were filming LOTR, when we would obsessively reload TheOneRing.Net? good times. I don’t think I have the same compulsion this time around.

Worth noting that the “official” movie blog for The Hobbit hasn’t been updated in over 2 years.

And while we are talking the Hobbitt, it should be noted that Sir Peter Jackson is no longer fit to play a cameo role.