Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"The Hobbit" looks like it's not happening (for the moment); Guillermo Del Toro leaving the project

There is sad news in Middle Earth as Guillermo Del Toro has announced that he is leaving the "Hobbit" film adaptation project. The filmmaker was growing increasingly frustrated with delays in the development of the project which seems to be now have fallen into a deeper quagmire of development hell. But before you blame Del Toro, you should know that this is not his fault.

The unpleasant fate of the Hobbit movie is to be blamed on the problem, that has been money, specifically the dire situation at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the storied movie studio that has been pinned down by $3.7 billion in debt and a chaotic reorganization that has seen the balance of power tilt away from management and toward lenders with little or no Hollywood experience. The MGM crisis is the reason that plans for another James Bond film were put on the shelf a few months ago, but many people assumed that "The Hobbit" would be different since MGM wasn't the sole financing power behind the "The Hobbit."

That was not the case, as was made clear in Del Toro's comments during a press conference last week that veered into "Hobbit" territory even though the central topic was "Splice," a new film that Del Toro produced: "We have been caught in a very tangled negotiation. Now I have been on the project for nearly two years. We have designed all the creatures, the sets, the wardrobe, animatics and planned action sequences, and we are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered. We don't know anything until the MGM situation is resolved."

Peter Jackson, the executive producer of "The Hobbit" films, chased those comments and tried to assure fans that the plan to deliver a two-film adaptation of the classic stories was not in jeopardy. It's interesting to read between the lines and guess whether there was mounting tension between Jackson and Del Toro. Maybe it doesn't matter after Sunday, when Del Toro dropped the bombshell on the One Ring, the official website for fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien books and their film adaptations.

"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 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.”

One should note that with a high caliber director such as Guillermo Del Toro, he would have more than a handful of projects lined up, waiting to be done, and some of these projects are bound by contracts. It would be a useless waste of time for Del Toro to sit and wait for a project which may or may not happen.

Fanatics of the Tolkien series are hoping that Peter Jackson, who is well known as the man who directed the renowned Lord of the Rings movie series, and was the one who actually recommended Del Toro for the job of directing the Hobbit will take over the project.

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