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Guillermo del Toro No Longer Directing "The Hobbit"

by Mel Valentin

The Memorial Day Weekend is typically slow when it comes to news, film-related or otherwise, but that's not always the case. Via fan site (hat tip to Film School Rejects for bringing this news to our attention), Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy I and II," "Pan's Labyrinth," "The Devil's Backbone," "Blade 2," "Cronos") has officially withdrawn as the director of "The Hobbit," due to the delays associated with MGM's financial troubles (and pending sale) as well as scheduling conflicts with other film projects.

Del Toro will complete work on the screenplay for The Hobbit (planned to be released in two parts) before moving on to other projects. Executive producer and co-screenwriter Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, Heavenly Creatures) will remain attached to The Hobbit, but won't step in to direct. A new director will be sought for The Hobbit, but a timetable or potential candidates weren't mentioned.

Here's an excerpt from Jackson's statement:

“We feel very sad to see Guillermo leave The Hobbit, but he has kept us fully in the loop and we understand how the protracted development time on these two films, due to reasons beyond anyone's control – has compromised his commitment to other long term projects", says Executive Producer Peter Jackson. “The bottom line is that Guillermo 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. Guillermo is one of the most remarkable creative spirits I've ever encountered and it has been a complete joy working with him. Guillermo's strong vision is engrained into the scripts and designs of these two films, which are extremely fortunate to be blessed with his creative DNA”.

Fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy will be obviously disappointed by del Toro's decision to withdraw from The Hobbit, but those of us who preferred his smaller, more intimate work like Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone (two films on my personal decade-best list) will be, if not happy that del Toro won't be bringing his unique visual style to Middle Earth, then at least hopeful and optimistic that he'll return to the smaller scale films that more closely reflect his artistic and thematic concerns than the bigger-budgeted films he's made. IMDB lists ten features in development, including a new version of Frankenstein, an adaptation of Dan Simmons' Drood, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, an adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches (filmed 20 years by Nicholas Roeg), and an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Death: The High Cost of Living. Another project not mentioned on IMDB is the third part of the Spanish Civil War trilogy that began with The Devil's Backbone in 2001 and continued with Pan's Labyrinth four years ago. There's also the possible big-screen adaptation of his horror novel, The Strain, to throw into the mix. Then again, maybe del Toro will surprise us with something totally unexpected.

So what do you think of Guillermo del Toro leaving The Hobbit? Good? Bad? Indifferent? If good, what project would you like to see him tackle next? If bad (but it's a done deal), who would you like to see replace del Toro as the director of The Hobbit?

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originally posted: 05/31/10 10:33:00
last updated: 05/31/10 20:28:46
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