At the European Media Leaders Summit in London, MGM chief Harry Sloan confirmed that the studio plans to focus on its five core franchises – James Bond, “The Pink Panther,” “Thomas Crown,” “Rocky” and “The Hobbit”. The aim is to release two or three tentpoles per year reports Variety. Steve Martin recently delivered a script for the latest “Pink Panther,” where his Inspector Clouseau teams up with equally bumbling detectives from other European countries to defeat a continent-wide crime wave.

Shooting is expected to start in February.The next “Thomas Crown Affair” starring Pierce Brosnan is scheduled for March, with a likely budget around $100 million. Daniel Craig will return in the sequel to “Casino Royale” which is up for release in late 2008.Sloan said “Rocky Balboa,” which is set for release next year, will probably be the last installment in that franchise, because Sylvester Stallone’s title character will be too old for the ring.Finally, Sloan confirmed MGM was in talks with Peter Jackson to make two movies based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” though that is contingent on negotiations with New Line, which owns the right to produce “The Hobbit”.

The first “Hobbit” will 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”.

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