Guillermo Del Toro Off “The Hobbit”

What a difference a few days make. Last week quotes from filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro taken at the “Splice” junket earlier in May were published where MGM’s continuing financial difficulties were cited as the major reason that the much anticipated film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” couldn’t continue beyond the pre-production phase as yet.

Yet the “Pan’s Labyrinth” director sounded upbeat that it was only a matter of time and was very proud of the nearly two years of work he had put into the project as director and co-writer. So, when he confirmed he was stepping down as director over the weekend, the ensuing response has been a large and understandable amount of shock and sadness.

In a statement given to, both Del Toro and Peter Jackson talk about former’s departure from the big chair, the reasoning behind it, and his continued involvement in other capacities on the project.

Del Toro says “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, 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”.

Jackson added “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”.

Jackson went on to confirm Del Toro’s certainly far from done with these movies – “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. 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”.

Deadline added a little more to the story, namely dismissing the one rumor that was bound to immediately pop-up after the news was announced – that Jackson himself would step in as director. Jackson’s manager Ken Kamins pretty clearly shoots down the possibility, saying “Peter has and has had obligations and commitments to other films that would make it impossible for him to direct ‘The Hobbit ‘at this time, even if it was offered, which it hasn’t been.” He also added Jackson had been quietly lining up another project which he was planning to direct while Del Toro was going to shoot “The Hobbit”.