Production on the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit has been held up by production studio MGM’s financial woes for several months now. The excessive delays have now dealt a hard blow to the project, this time on the artistic front, as director Guillermo del Toro has officially revealed that it’s no longer feasible for him to direct the two-movie project.

The Hellboy director broke the news to TheOneRing.net exclusively as a gesture of his, and The Hobbit co-screenwriter/executive producer Peter Jackson’s, respect for the Lord of the Rings fanboy community.  Despite recent comments and speculation from LOTR stars Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis, this is in fact the first new, concrete bit of information to come out concerning The Hobbit‘s status in a while.

You can read del Toro’s official statement below:

“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 [Jackson], Fran [Walsh], 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 the 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 additionally announced that although he and his fellow Hobbit crew members were sad to see the filmmaker leave the project, “the bottom line is that Guillermo [del Toro] just didn’t feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years.”

He went on to refer to del Toro as “one of the most remarkable creative spirits I’ve ever encountered,” and that The Hobbit films “are extremely fortunate to be blessed with his creative DNA.”

Jackson then concluded his statement by revealing that del Toro would continue to do polish work on The Hobbit screenplay for the next several months and that “we [The Hobbit production team] do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work” due to del Toro’s departure as director.

As a filmmaker, del Toro has, if nothing else, displayed an immense talent for creative creatures, set, and effects design in films like Pan’s Labyrinth or Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.  Longtime Screen Rant readers might recall that, back in 2008, del Toro’s schedule was announced to be full until 2017, and he’s been hard at work on The Hobbit ever since.

Although many fans, myself included, will definitely be disappointed that del Toro will no longer direct the film as well, it’s understandable that devoting an extra three years of his life to The Hobbit was simply not a feasible option for an already busy man.

The big question now for the film version of The Hobbit is who will be brought on-board to direct in del Toro’s place?

Should Peter Jackson settle down in the director’s chair himself?  Is there another auteur you’d like to see give their take on Middle Earth?  Or perhaps a relatively unknown entity?

We’ll let you know when The Hobbit gets a new director and when production FINALLY gets going on the film as soon as we hear anything new.

Source: TheOneRing.net