Jackson Held Up over 'Hobbit' Rights

03/08/2004 AT 04:57 PM EST

After his movie's Academy Awards sweep of 11 naked golden men, including Best Picture, Oscar-winning "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson can't start filming a prequel to the series, the J.R.R. Tolkien novel "The Hobbit," until legal problems are resolved between two movie studios, he tells the Associated Press.

Jackson said that while New Line Cinema (which, like PEOPLE, is part of Time Warner) owns the rights to make the movie, MGM has the rights to distribute it.

"Their lawyers are going to have a huge amount of fun over the next few years trying to work it all out," he said.

Jackson, 42, meanwhile, is currently remaking "King Kong," which he hopes to begin shooting later this year in anticipation of a Christmas 2005 release, he said backstage to reporters on Oscar night.

Jackson has expressed an avid interest in filming "The Hobbit," which tells how Bilbo Baggins found the supernatural ring and passed it onto his nephew, Frodo. He added that he will be patient before undertaking the "Rings"-related project.

"I'm obviously busy for a couple of years on 'King Kong.' so those lawyers can just go at it for a long time," he told AP, adding that if "The Hobbit" movie did come to fruition, he would like it to fit in with his Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

"I'd want Ian McKellen to be back as Gandalf, I'd want it to feel like it was part of the same mythology that we've done with Lord of the Rings," he said.

Meanwhile, the home-video release date of the theatrical version "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," has been pushed up by three months and will be in stores on May 25, says its distributor. An extended version of the film, including previously unseen footage, will follow at the end of the year.

From Our Partners