On a Memorial Day weekend where everyone should be in the backyard barbecuing, we all found ourselves dragged back indoors to our computers for a shocking announcement: After years of pre-production work, planning, and excitement, Guillermo del Toro resigned as the director of The Hobbit. Del Toro had long been seen as the ideal successor to take over the Middle Earth franchise after Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, and there are few movies anyone, anywhere was looking forward to more than his take on The Hobbit.
The revelation of Del Toro's departure sent a shockwave through fans and minutes after posting our report on the story, we started hearing from all of you, eager to help find his replacement. We've been following the conversation in your emails, in our comments section, in your tweets, and in discussions on Cinema Blend's Facebook fan page. In the process we've learned that few readers anywhere have better ideas than ours.
Del Toro's gone and that means the search for a new Hobbit director is on. I've sorted through hundreds of Cinema Blend reader responses and come up with a list of the directors you'd like to see in charge of Middle Earth. Here they are, the people you'd most like to see take on The Hobbit.
As the director of the original Lord of the Rings movies, he's obviously been the ideal choice all along. In fact it's hard to even comprehend seeing Middle Earth on screen without Peter Jackson in charge of it. But the new, thinner Peter Jackson looks far less hobbity than the last time he handled middle earth and when his hobbitlike girth vanished so did his passion for directing the works of Tolkien. Jackson doesn't want Lord of the Rings to be his Star Wars and seems determined to make things he's not as good at directing, like The Lovely Bones, instead of making the movies he was born to make. It's kind of like Superman 2 where Clark gives up his powers to live a mortal life with Lois Lane, only Peter Jackson's Lois Lane is a bunch of bad movies no one wants to see. Sadly Jackson's management has been adamant that he'll never be anything other than a producer on The Hobbit so no matter how much we want him, no matter how much The Hobbit needs him, no matter how much it seems like he needs The Hobbit, it's all but certain at this point that even after the abrupt departure of Del Toro it won't be him at the helm. Instead he'll be heavily involved in choosing who does direct it, and that means finding someone Jackson can mesh with, and quick.
Once you, our readers, got over Jackson's refusal accept the great responsibility that comes with his great power, there was one name you turned to more than any other: Alfonso Cuaron. He's already proven he can handle desperate journeys through desolate and hostile landscape, doing it by directing one of the best science fiction movies of the decade in Children of Men. He's also proven he has a talent for fantasy by directing what is almost without a doubt the best movie of the Harry Potter series in Prisoner of Azkaban. As he would be with The Hobbit, in Azkaban he took over an existing, popular franchise and made it his own. In fact he didn't just make it his own, he made it better. Cuaron's Potter film is easily the most well-crafted and visually arresting of all the Potter entries and it doesn't simply recycle what came before it, creating its own look and style which pays homage to previous films without duplicating them. There's no reason to think Cuaron couldn't step in, rather easily, and do the same for the next entry in the Lord of the Rings series. The Hobbit needs Alfonso Cuaron.
Blomkamp got the nod from a lot of you in part because of his brilliant work last year on the low budget, sci-fi triumph District 9, but also because of his close association with Peter Jackson. Think of them like master and student. Jackson produced District 9 with Neill and they continue to have a closely tied working relationship. Since Peter Jackson will continue on as the primary producer and one of the co-writers on The Hobbit, pairing the two of them together seems like an easy way to make the transition from Del Toro. They already know how to work with each other, they're familiar with each other's style, and it seems impossible that Blomkamp could spend as much time hanging around in New Zealand at WETA as he does without soaking up at least a little Lord of the Rings info. Neill's never handled a movie this big before, but Peter Jackson once championed him as the only guy who should direct a movie version of Halo, and he obviously thinks Blomkamp's more than ready for it.
This one really caught me by surprise but apparently for a lot of you, when you think Middle Earth, you think Kill Bill. Or maybe you'd like to see Frodo fight Nazis? More than a few of our readers chimed in with Tarantino as their top suggestion for who should replace Del Toro and since it's Tarantino, well, you never know. It's probably safe to assume there's no way he'd ever do it, but this isn't a story about who will do it, rather this is about who should. Are you ready to believe there's anything Tarantino can't do? Sure his version of The Hobbit would bear almost no resemblance to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies but there's no doubt that whatever he came up with would be absolutely unforgettable. Imagine drug-addicted dwarves and afro-wearing hobbits delivering lengthy speeches on the massive elf ego while fighting a Nazi dragon with Kung Fu and you probably still haven't scratched the surface of what Tarantino might come with. Would it be weird? Yes. Would it be good? Oh hell yes. Would it be a Tolkien movie? By the time Tarantino's done with it, who knows.
The days when Ridley Scott was out to change the world with his visionary take on the future are long gone and these days, if Robin Hood is any indicator, he's the guy you go to when you're looking for something safe. So it's no surprise that more than a few of you wrote Ridley's name on your Hobbit director's chair. He's done gritty, sword and sandal movies and pulled them off. The risk here is that he's also screwed them up, royally. Kingdom of Heaven was kind of a disaster and the aforementioned Robin Hood was a total bore. It helps here though that he's working off a script from Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro which is almost certain to be good, leaving it up to Ridley merely to make the movie look good and fit on a movie screen. The real drawback here isn't so much that he's screw it up, it's that he's likely to hire Russell Crowe as a drunken, surely, Bilbo. If you can live with that, then maybe Ridley Scott's the guy you want directing The Hobbit.
There's no question that Duncan Jones is the riskiest choice being discussed here, but after listening to us champion it for months more than a few of you ran out and caught Moon, and were blown away by Jones work on it as we were. What Jones lacks in big budget blockbuster experience, he makes up for in ingenuity and creativity. Like Blomkamp he made a tiny little indie film on a modest budget, but unlike Blomkamp he did it without relying on computer generated effects. Moon looks amazing and it's all done using practical effects and models, of the type used to make the original three Lord of the Rings movies look so goddamn good. Moon is of course a smaller scale movie that takes place almost entirely on a sterile moon base, but it's so well crafted and it's so visually arresting that Jones deserves a shot at something really, really big. From where I'm sitting The Hobbit, dragons and dwarves and goblins and all, seems like it might be right up his alley.
Honorable Mentions: Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon, Danny Boyle, Terry Gilliam, Sam Raimi, JJ Abrams