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It’s Halo all over again. Yet another Peter Jackson produced project is headed the way of the Titanic thanks to endless studio delays. This time it’s The Hobbit in need of a flotation device.
In a press release sent to The One Ring director Guillermo del Toro delivered a body blow to Tolkien fans by announcing he’s leaving the Jackson produced Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit. If someone else eventually makes it he’ll still be involved, since he co-wrote the current script and will continue to participate in the writing process, but he won’t direct as originally planned.
At issue is the same thing that’s been the problem all along: MGM’s bankruptcy which has delayed the project over and over and over again. Del Toro explains, “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 .“ His decision? “The mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project.” And now he’s moving on.
It’s hard to fault Del Toro here. He originally took the job in early 2008 and in that time basically put his entire life on hold to move to New Zealand and immerse himself in Middle Earth with Peter Jackson and his team. At the time the movie was on the fast track and slated to begin shooting as soon as they were ready. And they’ve been ready for some time now, waiting, and waiting, and waiting for MGM to get its legal troubles sorted out so they can move forward. Now, at least with Del Toro, they never will.
Peter Jackson assures us that the project isn’t dead. He says, “New Line and Warner Bros will sit down with us this week, to ensure a smooth and uneventful transition, as we secure a new director for the Hobbit. We do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work.”
Things would go a lot smoother if Jackson simply stepped up and did what he should have done all along, by directing the movies himself. But his manager tells Deadline that is absolutely not a possibility. And if that's his attitude, then I think fans have good cause to be worried here.
You should be worried because this is all to similar to what happened on the Peter Jackson produced Halo movie. After encountering funding problems that project was delayed, stalled, lost momentum and basically fell apart. it needed Jackson to step into the directors chair to save it. Putting Jackson in the movie's director's chair would have saved it. He refused and in the end it ended up on a shelf somewhere, doomed to spend eternity in development hell. Here’s hoping this isn’t a sign that The Hobbit is headed for a similar fate.