After various reports of financial troubles and delays on the two planned films based on J.R.R Tolkienâ€™s The Hobbit, Guillermo del Toro announced today that he will not longer be directing the films.
Del Toro and his partner on the project executive producer Peter Jackson revealed the news today to popular Tolkien fansite The One Ring. You can read the official statement here below after the jump.
Del Toro will stay on the project as co-screenwriter, along with Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh (the latter three make up the writing team for the award-winning Lord Of The Rings film trilogy), and Jackson said that the team would be finishing up the screenplay over the next several months.
Both Jackson and del Toro made it clear in their statements that del Toro’s reason for giving up directing duties was because of delays on the filming, as well as the fact that his original commitment to the films had been for three years, which included living in New Zealand where production is set to take place. With the recent changes to filming dates and MGM financial troubles, del Toro would have likely had to stay there for six years — that would mean he’d be unable to work on his other planned long-term films. Del Toro has already spent two years working on the concepts, script, and designs on the two Hobbit films.
The next obvious question is, who will be chosen to direct The Hobbit films? Will Peter Jackson, who directed all three Lord Of The Rings movies, step in?
The two Hobbit films, which are currently being co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, are scheduled for release in Dec 2012 and Dec 2013.
â€œIn light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming â€œThe Hobbit,â€ I am faced with the hardest decision of my lifeâ€, says Guillermo. â€œAfter nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkienâ€™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. Iâ€™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 directorâ€.
â€œWe 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 anyoneâ€™s control â€“ has compromised his commitment to other long term projectsâ€, says Executive Producer Peter Jackson. â€œThe bottom line is that Guillermo just didnâ€™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 Iâ€™ve ever encountered and it has been a complete joy working with him. Guillermoâ€™s strong vision is engrained into the scripts and designs of these two films, which are extremely fortunate to be blessed with his creative DNAâ€.
â€œGuillermo 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 polishedâ€ says Jackson. â€œNew 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 workâ€.