In a Hollywood Reporter piece on Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit (i.e., “The Hobbit: Inside Peter Jackson and Warner Bros.’ $1 Billion Gamble”), Kim Masters reports that Warner Bros. will release the 48 frame-per-second version of the film in 400 theatres on 12.14.

400 theatres? Yeah, okay. I guess that’s not so bad from a big- and middle-sized urban film fan perspective, and not too good for anyone who lives in Bumblefuck….but that’s always been the case, right?

Three Hobbit films will be released, and Masters quotes “a knowledgeable source” claiming that “the first two installments cost $315 million each, and that’s with Jackson deferring his fee. A studio source insists that number is wildly inflated and, with significant production rebates from New Zealand, the cost is closer to $200 million a movie.”

Masters also reports that original Hobbit director Guillermo del Toro may have left the project under some creative duress, possibly over concerns that his vision of the film was being (or was likely to be) compromised by Jackson’s.

“If there’s one message that Jackson and his team want to convey, it’s that del Toro left on his own — without a push from Jackson,” Masters writes. Jackson is quoted as saying that “eventually, he couldn’t wait around anymore [for del Toro to start shooting]…we got to the point that it was six months past when we should’ve originally started shooting.”

“Some close to del Toro suspect the story was a bit more complicated than that.

“‘Do I think Peter wanted to take over The Hobbit? No,’ says one insider. ‘But he was going to be involved one way or the other, and as an artist, Guillermo wanted to make his version of the movie. I think he wondered: ‘How much of an imprint can I put on this? Do I want to spend years of my life being caretaker of someone else’s franchise?'”

“In a statement to THR, del Toro says that ‘leaving The Hobbit after more than two years in New Zealand was the most difficult professional decision I’ve ever had to make. I put a great deal of love and effort into the co-writing and prepping of the Hobbit movies…with Peter, Fran and Philippa. However, I had a number of other professional and personal obligations that I had to fulfill. I left with the confidence that the Hobbit films were in good hands.'”