If New Line Cinema and MGM have their way, Guillermo del Toro will be the director of both “Hobbit” movies, which are currently being envisioned as a back-to-back project. This isn’t really a surprise; del Toro is one of two people whispered to have been in the running for the director’s chair, along with Sam Raimi, ever since Peter Jackson passed on directing the films (although he is expected to produce them).
Del Toro’s name was on a short list of directors who could tackle the project, one of the most anticipated literary adaptations of the past decade. An ill-chosen director for “Hobbit” could put billions of dollars at stake for New Line and MGM and could turn off an audience that encompasses millions of passionate readers, Tolkien fans and obsessive geeks.
Few filmmakers have the cachet that del Toro has, as well as a deep love for the source material, an assured grasp of fantasy filmmaking and an understanding and command of geek culture as well as its respect. Del Toro has built that goodwill through such films as the Oscar-nominated “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy,” “Blade 2″ (which was made by New Line) and “The Devil’s Backbone.”
Del Toro has already shown that he can direct pretty much anything, from balls-to-the-walls action like “Blade 2″ and the “Hellboy” movies to more subtle fantasy like “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Devil’s Backbone”. This is a great choice if he signs on the dotted line, and practically guarantees geek support for the movies, with or without Jackson’s involvement, though if he’s smart, Jackson will do the “producer” thing and rake in the bucks.