If you've been following the news on the two-part adaptation of The Hobbit, you'll be well aware of all the trouble behind the scenes. There've been major financial troubles over at MGM (one of the film's financiers) and even with the screenplays finished, the film apparently hasn't even been officially greenlit yet.
However, yesterday came a whopper of an announcement: Guillermo del Toro will no longer be directing The Hobbit. In my opinion he was a fantastic choice to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy book, his style perfectly matching the aesthetic of the novel's world. A silver lining in all this is the fact that del Toro's co-written scripts will stay put and he'll continue polishing them for the next few months.
Del Toro's departure obviously leaves The Hobbit without a director, but who could possibly fill his shoes? The logical choice is Peter Jackson, since he helmed the Lord of the Rings trilogy, And if it comes down to it, that's who may very well take the helm.
Jackson recently spoke to New Zealand's Dominion Post and told them he met with studio execs yesterday about finding a replacement for del Toro. However, he isn't ruling out stepping into the director's chair himself if need be - "If that's what I have to do to protect Warner Bros' investment, then obviously that's one angle which I'll explore"
The trouble is that Jackson is currently contracted for two other projects, one of which starts shooting next year and would directly conflict with shooting The Hobbit - he might not be able to free himself. "The other studios may not let me out of the contracts."
As for which two projects Jackson is tied to, we already know he is contracted to direct the second Tintin movie (Steven Spielberg directed the first). However, Jackson has several other project lined up, any one of which could be the second project he mentioned: Dambusters, an adaptation of the sci-fi book series Mortal Engines and an adaptation of the fantasy novels Temeraire.
You'll be happy to know that there are no plans to shut down preparations for The Hobbit. Even though the project isn't officially in pre-production (as I said, it's not even been greenlit), work has already begun on building sets and so forth, including that of Hobbiton.
Jackson also went on to say the absolute earliest shooting start date for The Hobbit would be this November (keeping in line with the "end of year-ish" schedule Andy Serkis mentioned recently), but finding a new director is certainly a thing of importance:
"I just don't know now until we get a new director. The key thing is that we don't intend to shut the project down.... We don't intend to let this affect the progress. Everybody, including the studio, wants to see things carry on as per normal. The idea is to make it as smooth a transition as we can."
Personally I wanted Jackson to direct the film when the project was first announced - that is before del Toro's name was brought up, of course. Jackson had already immersed himself in the world of Middle Earth and thus he'd be able to slide back into that world for The Hobbit more easily than a newcomer. I hope he's able to get out of his other contracts and starts work on The Hobbit as director ASAP.
Would you like to see Peter Jackson take on directorial duties for The Hobbit now that del Toro isn't directing? Or would you prefer some fresh blood?
If all goes to plan, Part 1 of The Hobbit will hit theaters in December, 2012, with Part 2 following a year later in December, 2013.
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