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A capery, spy-ey, hobbity, clashy, ghosty midweek movie news

A sprained ankle and other unexciting matters sidelined me yestereday, but now I can use my imposed semi-immobility for bloggy purposes.

* THR is claiming an exclusive that a date has finally been set for the two-part Peter Jackson/Guillermo del Toro collaboration, “The Hobbit.” (That’s with an assist from the late J.R.R. Tolkien, of course.) There was some apparent confusion earlier in the day, but it now looks like the two films will be released in Christmas of 2012 and 2013. That’s a year off from the original plan for the LOTR follow-up/prequel (though LOTR is technically the sequel here). Though this article doesn’t mention it, at least part of the problem was widely supposed to be the decline and fall of MGM.

* I’m not at all sure how the “poison pill” actually works but it appears that a decision by authorities up in British Columbia — which is, like, part of an entirely different country than ours and everything — will make it easier for Carl Icahn to attempt his hostile takeover of Lionsgate.

* Does anybody really want a “Clash of the Titans” sequel? Well, we’re getting one anyhow.

Clash of the Titans

* Bill Murray is apparently bound and determined to be the proverbial turd in the “Ghostbusters 3″ punchbowl. It wasn’t a punch I had my heart set on, in any case, much as I liked the first one.

* Just the day before yesterday I was part of a press round-table with the affable, stylish French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie,” “City of Lost Children”). Someone brought up his adapatation of the acclaimed, fantastical Booker Prize-winning novel, The Life of Pi, a project which the vagaries of movie-making had apparently forced him to give up on. Today, Anne Thompson brings word that it appears that the project has been picked up by another strong directorial hand, Ang Lee.  And, guess what, it’ll be 3-D. Lee’s one of the movies’ great humanists still working, so I’m sure the film won’t be overwhelmed by effects.

* Speaking of Anne Thompson, I saw “Iron Man 2″ at the press junket screening last week (a last minute reschedule to L.A. from London, on account of the Icelandic volcanic eruption, I was told). I’m supposedly embargoed from saying anything more than that, but it certainly hasn’t stopped Ms. Thompson from venturing an opinion and summarizing what might be the general critical reaction. Let’s just say I did not fall down in a dead faint at reading her thoughts.

* Director Doug Liman is the latest to circle the Coen Brother’s script for an adaptation of the fun Michael Caine/Shirley MacLaine 1960s caper flick, “Gambit.”

* He’s a gay vegetarian polymath, he painted the Mona Lisa, he inspired a huge best-seller about Jesus having kids, he has an enormous beard, and now he’s ready to kick some renaissance ass!

* Paramount wants to make a film of the Mattel-owned toy perennial, the Magic 8 Ball. Contacted for comment, the legendary children’s oracle said: “Outlook not so good.”

* Topher Grace and Richard Gere are both somewhat underrated performers these days. I like the sound of the sound of this spy thriller featuring the pair. At least writer-director Michael Brandt seems to know which movies to steal from.

* Dennis Cozzalio has some great posters and pics from the TCM fest. Much more from him to follow.

* Another one of the more interesting and ubiquitous cinephile bloggers is taking a break, but for how long?

Ricky Gervais* The 2010 show wasn’t so great and it was probably the least funny I’ve ever seen the great Ricky Gervais be, but nevertheless he has been asked back to host the Golden Globes next year:

“I can’t believe they invited me back after awful things I said,” said Gervais. “Let’s see how far I can go this time.”

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