This is breaking news this morning:
“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”, says Guillermo. “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”.
With that statement, Guillermo Del Toro is out as director of the two movies that will adapt JRR Tolkein's book, The Hobbit, for the big screen. I first learned this news at the excellent Empire Online, but the story originated at The One Ring.net.
This seems to have something to do with the financial uncertainly of MGM, which has the distribution rights to any films based upon The Hobbit. The studio is currently in the midst of an ownership battle, and not only has this affected The Hobbit, but also the fate of the 23rd James Bond movie.
This is disappointing news, and as much as I'd wanted to see Del Toro's vision of Middle-Earth, I'd actually prefer another Hellboy movie.