The Hobbit by JRR TolkienVia /Film, Guillermo del Toro on leaving his position as director of the upcoming film version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit:

In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming “The Hobbit,” I am faced with the hardest decision of my life. After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures. I remain grateful to Peter, Fran and Philippa Boyens, New Line and Warner Brothers and to all my crew in New Zealand. I’ve been privileged to work in one of the greatest countries on earth with some of the best people ever in our craft and my life will be forever changed. The blessings have been plenty, but the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project. Both as a co-writer and as a director, I wish the production nothing but the very best of luck and I will be first in line to see the finished product. I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director.

Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and producer of The Hobbit, confirms that del Toro will be staying on as part of the writing team:

Guillermo is co-writing the Hobbit screenplays with Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and myself, and happily our writing partnership will continue for several more months, until the scripts are fine tuned and polished…New Line and Warner Bros will sit down with us this week, to ensure a smooth and uneventful transition, as we secure a new director for the Hobbit. We do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work

Disappointment aside, the big question is who’ll fill del Toro’s shoes. The obvious choice, to me at any rate, is Jackson. Despite being a fan of del Toro, he’s always struck me as too dark a director for the project, and one of The Hobbits biggest strengths (and why I much prefer it to The Lord of the Rings, is its whimsical, storybook nature. That’s not saying del Toro couldn’t have pulled it off (and we know it’d have been stunning visually), but Jackson nailed the look and feel of The Lord of the Rings, and I have no doubt that he’d do justice to the spirit of The Hobbit.


Looks like Jackson might direct after all, if no other suitable director is found:

Sir Peter Jackson says he will step into the breach and direct The Hobbit himself if it becomes the only way to ensure the US$150 million (NZ$219m) film is made after the sudden departure of director Guillermo del Toro.

Good news, if true.

  • Niall Alexander May 31, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Except that: “Jackson’s manager Ken Kamins pretty clearly shoots down the possibility, saying ‘Peter has and has had obligations and commitments to other films that would make it impossible for him to direct The Hobbit at this time, even if it was offered, which it hasn’t been.’ He also added Jackson had been quietly lining up another project which he was planning to direct while Del Toro was going to shoot The Hobbit.” From Dark Horizons.

    Oh well. We could dream for a day, I suppose. Give it to Sam Raimi! :)

  • aidan May 31, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Commitments are dust in the wind in Hollywood, though. Movie’s come and go, directors even more frequently. If del Toro can drop the project now, it would be just as believable for Jackson to pick up the reigns.

  • Niall Alexander May 31, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I’d be over the moon if he did. Nothing he did before nor since has come close to eclipsing his work on the trilogy, and I was honestly surprised when I first he wouldn’t be directing The Hobbit films. Though why they’re films rather than a film still remains a mystery to me. Hollywood indeed.

    Here’s hoping, I guess, but I think it’s unlikely.

    So who would everyone else’s choice for a director be, if Jackson and del Toro are out of the question?

  • aidan May 31, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I saw Terry Gilliam’s name suggested, which would be interesting. I’d also be curious to see what someone like Andrew Stanton or the other Pixar guys could with live action. They know how to tell a story better than anyone in the business, if you ask me.

  • Swifthom May 31, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Terry Gilliam… :p
    No… Please, he’s already cursed. He’s a great director but production nightmares afflict everything he touches. It’s like fate does everything possible to stop him putting movies out at all.

    But then, if he did manage to pull it together, it’d be great. Assuming he could cope with the studio executives who would doubtlessly be hovering over his shoulder, that might put him off, it has before on other projects.

  • Anthony L. May 31, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    I saw someone suggest Alfonso Cuaron as their favorite, and I’d have to agree there. =D

  • Janea S. June 1, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I can’t imagine what project you’d take over something like the Hobbit, especially when you’ve already put that much work into it.