I know. It’s just horrendous, isn’t it? Not only will Peter Jackson (if you’re a Ring-fan that’s Our Lord and Saviour, to you) not be taking the helm, but now neither will the director of Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy film adaptations. Crushing news for anyone looking forward to a Bilbo Baggins with a penchant for the melancholy, right?
Now, put down that replica sword for a moment, and listen, as there’s a good reason from the man himself. I’ll paste it here verbatim, along with Peter “Thank-God-He’s-Still-Producer” Jackson’s comment/response:
“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”, says del Toro. “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”.
“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. 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”.
Now, this film’s been in heavy pre-production for what, nigh on two years or more, at this point, so for del Toro to drop out so close to what must be production time, it’s going to require someone who really, really knows what they’re doing in order to bring it back around. Most fantasy-linked directors are knee-deep in projects, but let’s be honest – if there’s one mythical blockbuster that’ll bring people in, it’s the origin story to end all origin stories.