Ready for some bad news? Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) recently told J.R.R. Tolkien fansite TheOneRing.net that he will no longer be directing the planned two-part film adaptation of The Hobbit.
“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,” Guillermo 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.”
However, hardcore Tolkienites need not start crying into their Elven cloaks just yet. The films are reportedly still happening, and are scheduled for release in December 2012 and December 2013.
But what does Academy Award-winning Lord of the Rings director and Hobbit executive producer Peter Jackson have to say about his pal del Toro’s departure?
“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,” Jackson said. “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.”
While he won’t be in the director’s chair, del Toro is still co-writing the screenplays, and will remain as close to the production as possible—assuming it ever moves forward.