The Hobbit – Guillermo Del Toro out; Peter Jackson in?

Guillermo Del Toro has pulled out of directing The Hobbit for Peter Jackson, citing the financial woes of studio MGM and the project’s ongoing delay as the reasons for his decision.

Del Toro has spent the past two years writing the script for the Lord of the Rings prequel (set to be turned into two films) with Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh.

The rights to the film are jointly held by Warner Bros and MGM, the latter of which is in debt to the tune of US$3.7 billion. MGM’s struggle to repay creditors (they’ve received five extensions) led to the collapse of the latest James Bond film.

Although The Hobbit series is still gearing up for production, it will do so without Del Toro.

Last week, Del Toro shared his concerns about the project on a conference call. Hitfix have the transcript.

“There cannot be any start date until the MGM situation gets resolved because they hold considerable portion of the rights…it’s impossible to take a unilateral decision to give the greenlight to proceed. We really believe that the date will be known after they fact of MGM’s fate. Whether they stay or get supported or get some of the rights,” Del Toro said.

“Now I have been on the project for nearly two years. We have designed all the creatures, the sets, the wardrobe, animatics and planned action sequences and we are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered. We don’t know anything until MGM is solved.”

Two days later, Del Toro contacted the Lord of the Rings fansite The One Ring announcing his withdrawal from the project.

“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”.

Obviously, with Del Toro out, rumours of Jackson returning to the director’s chair emerged. Speaking to New Zealand’s Dominion Post, Jackson revealed that he would step into direct, as a last resort to save the big budget project. The film is worth more than US$150 million to New Zealand’s economy (it is set to be filmed in Wellington).

“If [directing is] what I have to do to protect Warner Bros’ investment, then obviously that’s one angle which I’ll explore,” Jackson said.

However, Jackson reiterates that it all depends on whether other studios will let him out of his pre-existing directorial contracts.

Ian McKellen
announced back in March that shooting would begin in July. The two installments of The Hobbit are still slated for Dec 2012 and Dec 2013 release dates. The hunt for a director begins.

Discuss: Who would you like to see take over the reins from Del Toro?

2 Responses to “The Hobbit – Guillermo Del Toro out; Peter Jackson in?”

  1. Del toro was to perfect for this movie, if he can't do it, then I think jackson will definitely have to.

  2. Jackson is back!! Can't wait…wish the best of luck to the production!

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