Guillermo del Toro will no longer direct The Hobbit, but will continue for the next several months to polish the scripts for the two-part Lord of the Rings prequel alongside Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh. Del Toro made the announcement Sunday via the J.R.R. Tolkien fan site TheOneRing.net.
“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,” Del Toro said. “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.”
Jackson, who said he’ll sit down with New Line and Warner Bros. execs this week to start securing a new director, added the following: “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 does not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work. The films, co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, are scheduled for release in December 2012 and December 2013.