Guillermo del Toro Exits The Hobbit as Director

I know what you’re thinking: “Ha ha, good one guys, April Fools to you, too!” Check your calender, Hobbit fans. It’s May, and this story is very much real. Guillermo del Toro has announced that he will no longer be bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” films to the big screen, though he will stay on as co-writer. The culprit? Time. There simply wasn’t enough time for del Toro to further invest in developing the two films, which would have meant putting everything else he had coming up on hold.

Here’s the official announcement via (via Heat Vision):

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 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.

Del Toro says he will continue as co-writer on the two films, but he won’t be directing them.

You can’t really blame him: he’s already spent two years of his life on the project, even going so far as to move his family to New Zealand, and he’s still nowhere close to a start date on the first movie. At this rate, it would have taken another three years — maybe even four years — out of him to get the films done, and del Toro has always struck me as the kind of guy with too much creative energy to just sit around New Zealand waiting for the money to start shooting. Why spend six years on two movies when he could spend them doing 3 or 4 movies? It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t “get” Sam Raimi being so adamant about spending the rest of his life directing more “Spider-Man” movies instead of spending all those years on fresh projects. Surely he had other ideas, other films he wanted to do? Props to del Toro for leaving a sure thing in order to maximize his creative output.

The first “Hobbit” movie was scheduled for 2012, but at this point … who knows? Producer Peter Jackson, who himself chose not to commit all that time to the project as director (having learned his lesson on the first three “Lord of the Rings” films, one presumes) will start looking for a replacement director post haste.

According to Deadline, without “The Hobbit” to tie him down, del Toro will now be free to follow-up on other movies he’s been attached to, including yet another version of “Frankenstein”, HP Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”, and the Dan Simmons novel “Drood”. He’s also been linked to a dozen other movies that have yet to see the light of day.

Del Toro is really sad to be leaving The Hobbit. Either that, or he's thinking of donuts. 50-50.