I'm on record as saying that Peter Jackson's take on Lord of the Rings was only so-so. I know any movie will have to make changes from the book, but I insist they improve the movie, not make it worse. Jackson, whose overall track record is one of rather superficial, shallow schlock, seemed in over his head when it came to LoTR. Not that it was all bad. He certainly had a knack for catching the overall vision. But then again, he hired individuals who had spent their lives bringing Tolkien's work to life through art. He merely had the model makers take their paintings and make them into CGI images or miniatures.
Jackson's biggest blunder was taking the reigns of the screenplay. While the pre-LoTR hype had Jackson insisting that making Rings was his life long dream, his pre-King Kong hype changed the story a little. Turns out, according to pre-KK publicity, Jackson really wanted to make King Kong his whole life. While waiting for his dream to materialize, he decided to make a fantasy film in the 90s. After trying to make up a fantasy world and finding he lacked the time (and talent), he decided to grab Lord of the Rings since there was a world already in place. And the way he approached the screenplay suggested there was more truth to that than not. The biggest flaws and flubs of his cinematic trilogy usually involved Jackson stepping in and pushing Tolkien's story off the stage. Rewriting parts, changing characters, adding entire subplots nowhere to be found in the books, stepping out of the cultural setting, and creating loopholes and inconsistencies - these were what made the movies more difficult to watch as the years roll on.
So I am less shocked than others are when I read that Jackson is casting actors for parts that had nothing to do with The Hobbit. That's about par for the course. Too much of me felt that Jackson just wanted to throw his arms up in front of Tokien and say 'I appreciated your efforts old fellow, but let me show you how it should have been done.' And the final product was the worse for it. Don't get me wrong, the films are OK, and there are parts that are very, very good - usually when Jackson steps out of the way and lets the original source material do the talking. But count me as one who feels there were just as many problems and shortcomings as the previous animated attempts to bring Middle Earth to the big screen. I have a feeling The Hobbit will be the same old, same old, and likely no better than the animated version (if not worse).