Peter Jackson(Note: This is the first of several stories details what Peter Jackson told a select group of journalists about ‘The Hobbit’.)

Peter Jackson made the most of his first trip to Comic-Con by inviting 40 or so journalists, including and internet reporters to sit and chat in a room about “The Hobbit,” “The Lovely Bones,” “District 9,” and various other projects and passions.

For fans, the good news: ‘The Hobbit’ is progressing and Jackson and the writing team of director Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens are close to have a finished screen-play for the first of the two movies, allowing the studio to give the film a green light. The bad news for the impatient: Casting isn’t being talked about much as the focus is firmly on nailing the story on the page.

“We are about three weeks I would say, give or take a little tailwind, we are about three weeks from turning over the first script for the first film to the studio.”

The handed-in script is a big step to making the dream of the film a reality, Jackson explained because it allows the studio and filmmakers to come up with a shooting schedule and a budget. The budget for the first film will be an indicator of the budget for the second film, giving studio and filmmakers a chance to start negotiations with actors, agents and to put all the needed pieces in place to make a movie.

The process is getting to the 1st-draft stage isn’t as simple as some might imagine.

“We worked on an extended treatment of the two films which we pitched to the studio on a long conference call. That was about three or four months ago. That went well and they liked the idea. (Before) none of us where really sure if it should be one film, or if it should it be two films,” he said.

“There was talk about doing ‘The Hobbit’ as one movie and making an ‘Hobbit,’ and ‘Lord of the Rings,’ bridge movie. We didn’t really know ourselves but as we worked through the story line we thought ‘Well obviously we could squeeze ‘The Hobbit’ into one movie, but In a three hour movie you would be amazed at how much of the story you would have to lose.”

“The book, well the book is what the book is and we just worked through a process and included all the events that we we would like to see in the film, plus the fact that we wanted to embellish a few things and put a little extra narrative that includes Gandalf and what he was doing with the Necromancer and various side stories that are happening. So we decided really that the two movies we are doing would actually would be ‘The Hobbit.’ ”

(Next: Why casting rumors are just internet rumors not based on facts.)