Peter Jackson held court at the Solamar Hotel in San Diego on Thursday, following an advance screening of Neill Blomkamp’s gritty South African sci-fi flick District 9. While celebration of the $30 million film was the reason for the gathering (“We live in a world where $30 million is a small amount of money,” Jackson said), the prolific New Zealand director opined on the numerous projects filling up his busy schedule. What’s most pressing? The first Hobbit script. Jackson and his writing partners, director Guillermo del Toro, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh, will deliver the first of the two Hobbit scripts to the studios in the next three weeks. As for casting, Jackson said, “We don’t have a budget. We don’t have a green light. We can’t offer any actors roles til then.”

Jackson had a little more to offer with The Lovely Bones, including a sneak peek at the film. The film’s trailer debuts on Aug. 7 with Sony’s Julie and Julia, but yesterday Jackson showed a 4 1/2 minute clip of the movie, which tells the devastating tale of 14-year old’s Susie Salmon’s murder. But rather than highlighting the morose, depressing aspects of the story, Jackson attempted to create more of a thriller-type feeling focused on Susie, played by Saoirse Ronan, the lively protagonist. “She’s wonderfully funny,” says Jackson. “She feels no self pity and makes ironic, wry observations.” We also learned that when Jackson created Susie’s heaven, in a 1973 world, he went through the Partridge Family television show archives as a reference.