In what many LOTR fans may consider a death in the family, Peter Jackson has confirmed he’ll not helm The Hobbit. Over at the OneRing.net, he explains why (tap on link).
For sometime a cloud over Jackson's involvement has been swirling due to an unresolved lawsuit between Jackson and New Line over incomes on The Fellowship of the Ring. Until the issue was settled there wasn't expected to be any involvement on Jackson's part.
And only last week, MGM Chief Harry Sloan had confirmed they were in talks with Jackson to make two movies based on The Hobbit - though they admitted that the deal was contingent on negotiations with New Line, which owns the right to produce The Hobbit (in typical Hollywood redtapeism, MGM owns the rights to the book, but New Line Cinema owns the production and distribution rights). Sloan said the first film would be a direct adaptation of The Hobbit, and the second would be drawn from footnotes and source material connecting The Hobbit with The Lord of the Rings.
Jackson indicated that New Line had a "limited time option on the films rights", and with the accounting practices of New Line has that lead to Jackson’s lawsuit bound to go into years, the studio was forced to pass on Jackson and begin the search for a new director.