After two years of pre-production and no set start date, Guillermo Del Toro has stepped down as director of The Hobbit. The fantasy director/producer extraordinaire broke the news to Lord of the Rings fan site theonering.net, stating that he simply did not have the extra time due to conflicting schedules, that the film needed. Del Toro will remain a co-writer until the script is finished, but executive producer Peter Jackson said, "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."
Below was Del Toro's statement released to TheOneRing:
“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”.
Fans needn't worry too much -- the fact that Del Toro spent two years in pre-production working with Jackson and the rest of the LOTR creative team pretty much means that his stamp has already been left on the project where it will count most, in the imagination/artistic design area.
Del Toro was tapped by Jackson and honorarily by fans alike as the ideal candidate to direct the films (two parts), which he agreed to make way back in April 2008. His incredible imagination has been sighted as the saving graces for his films, most notably Hellboy II: The Golden Army, or as one of the crowning achievements of his great films, such as El Laberinto del Fauno.
Jackson also said: "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, Jackson will have to fight off rumors that he will take the reigns until he scrounges up another candidate. Getting that person to commit to three plus years in New Zealand, however, should be a tough sell for an established director. However, he assures this will not further delay the project anymore than it's already been pushed back.
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