In a major bit of news today, word out of New Zealand is that Guillermo Del Toro, the acclaimed director the Hellboy franchise, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devils Backbone and Mimic, is leaving The Hobbit project after a year or so of development. This is a major blow to Tolkien fans, and leaves the project in something resembling a debacle. With the story initially broken over at theonering.net, we felt it pertinent to add it here for you all to read as well… and we’ll update our Hobbit page accordingly, very soon. Below, we’ve reprinted the statement published on TORN this morning.
“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 Guillermo. “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 wlsh 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”, 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”.
“Guillermo is co-writing the Hobbit screenplays with Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and myself, and happily our writing partnership will continue for several more months, until the scripts are fine tuned and polished” says Jackson. “New Line and Warner Bros will sit down with us this week, to ensure a smooth and uneventful transition, as we secure a new director for the Hobbit. We do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work”.
Consider me disappointed, as I’d love to have seen Del Toro’s work on The Hobbit come to fruition. Knowing he’ll remain on board until a new director is found, to continue the writing and pre-production process, is good to know, as it will ensure a small amount of continuity going forward. But it’s disappointing nonetheless. Now I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out who’s up for the job! If I was a betting man, I’d be hedging for Mr P Jackson to assume the reins to see this thing done properly.
Rest assured, we’ll keep you updated is more news comes to hand.
Late Edit: here’s a link to the EW article expanding a little more on the situation…