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Hobbit loses Guillermo del Toro

TheHobbit.jpgI don't know about you but this is perhaps the most surprising news I've heard in a long time. Guillero del Toro has left the production of The Hobbit films, and the problem seems to be wholly down to the studio.

What the story also raises concerns over is if we will get to see The Hobbit films being made, and the more I read about the story the more I'm concerned that the entire production may be halted. In effect, it already is.

Guillermo del Toro just can't hold on any longer to work on The Hobbit as he has delayed so much work for The Hobbit, and he just can't wait any longer, especially considering – and this is the really surprising part for me – the film still hasn't been greenlit, as in the studios still haven't decided if they're going to make it yet.

I first caught the news over at Yahoo News, and combined with Deadline Hollywood Daily, I pulled these comments together which come from a Lord of the Rings fansite, I'm guessing OneRing.net, but I could be wrong:

"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 cowriter 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."

That's a really nice and positive statement, and it bodes well for the film. Peter Jackson also spoke about Guillermo del Toro leaving:

"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...

...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."

Now that sounds quite a positive spin on it all, but there's some other words that have been pulled together in these articles that are worrying. On various occasions over the last month both men have discussed the perceived delays on the project. Jackson told Moviefone, and again no site reference in the article I'm afraid:

”Well, it's not really been delayed, because we've never announced the date. I mean it's sort of interesting because the studio has never greenlit The Hobbit, so therefore The Hobbit has never been officially announced as a 'go' project, nor have we ever announced a date.”

The film has never been greenlit? Did I miss that all this time? Have I been so caught up in the excitement of the Hobbit films that I didn't realise that the studios haven't actually agreed to make the film yet? The answer is yes.

Over at Variety they have another quote which compounds the issue where del Toro says:

”It's not greenlit...That's categorical. We've been caught in a very tangled negotiation. There cannot be any start dates until the MGM situation gets resolved. They do hold a considerable portion of the rights.”

Bear in mind that MGM are going through serious financial difficulties, even the Bond franchise is on hold while they try and get their financial woes sorted, and that for me is a big statement right there. Bond is a lucrative franchise, and despite the recent film being a dip from the previous, it was still a new start and looking very good. Yet it's pulled.

So where does it leave two epic sized films like Lord of the Rings in need of huge budgets, huge effects, and already three years of production with Jackson hinting at another three? Well...

”We have designed all the creatures. We've designed the sets and the wardrobe. We have done animatics and planned battles sequences ... We are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered”

Guillermo del Toro will remain to help write the film, and Peter Jackson says he's sitting down with MGM, and probably New Line too, to choose a director this week, but with another three years of production, the film not even approved and one of the studios in a lot of financial trouble, you have to wonder if this is really going to get made.

Deadline Hollywood Daily talked to Peter Jackson's manager about the possibility of Jackson directing, that appears to be a no, and here's what he said:

”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 reveals that he's been setting up a film for him to direct while del Toro would have been directing The Hobbit, and does that strike another blow for the production? If there's now another three years on The Hobbit, are we looking at Jackson having scheduling issues too?

However, do remember, Jackson is a huge film fan and he believes in doing things right. None of this will harm the quality of The Hobbit films when they eventually do get made, of that I'm sure, however the question will be when, and with whom?



They can wait all they want, but McKellen ain't gonna get any younger...


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