Guillermo Del Toro Pulls Out of The Hobbit

And the bad news just keeps on coming this weekend. In a bombshell of an announcement, Lord of the Rings fan site has relayed to the world the unfortunate scoop that Guillermo Del Toro will no longer be helming The Hobbit movie. Back in March, it was beginning to look like the two-movie project would suffer some sort of delay due to MGM’s perilous financial situation. Producer Peter Jackson tried to re-assure fans that they would still make the 2011 release date, but then in April, the next Bond movie (another major MGM project) was put on hold indefinitely. Clearly, the business complications have come to a head, and Guillermo Del Toro has now been forced to bow out.

He has issued the following statement:

“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.”

So there you have it. I was beginning to wonder how he could possibly commit to such a demanding movie in the first place when he also has about 20 other projects currently in development. This certainly calls into question the future of The Hobbit, and unless Peter Jackson himself takes over the reins, I’d be pretty surprised to see someone else jump on board before the sale of MGM is resolved. Either way, the fact that Del Toro has at least had a hand in the pre-production on these movies is a good thing, and hopefully we will still see it get made. Are you disappointed by this news? Is there anyone else you would like to see direct The Hobbit, or is Peter Jackson now the only logical choice?

  • That is a bummer.

  • Waterworld…hands down.

  • Nick Robertson

    That’s pretty full on. I was really looking forward to Guillermo’s take. Honestly, only Peter Jackson taking over keeps my interest. Anyone else simply will not do. Peter’s been there the whole time with Guillermo and he knows the ins and outs of how it’s been developed, I can imagine it’d be relatively smooth for Peter to slide over.
    Does Jackson have anything officially lined up next? No? Good.
    I’m a little bummed out here…

  • Until we see some real details about this film, other than a title and a couple of names I have no excitement.

    The Lord Of The Rings phase to me has come and gone so I’m in no rush to replenish my ring love.

  • Slushie Man

    Mucho bummed here.

  • pcch7

    If he fast tracked a Hellboy 3 then I would actually be happy about this. But nontheless, sad news.

  • Niklas

    That sucks. I really wanted to see del toro’s take on it and even if Peter Jackson takes over its a small step down. Its just amazing that after the success of LOTR they cant get this off the ground..

  • D. R.

    Bummer indeed. But one can hardly blame Del Toro. I mean, he’s supposed to do nothing else for 5 or 6 years? Instead of the 3 promised? I don’t think so. I’m beginning to think that The Hobbit has been so star-crossed that the universe does not want it to be filmed. If it is filmed by anyone but Jackson, I will not be looking forward to it.

  • Kenny

    Bad news indeed.

    Jackson should either do it himself or call Alfonso Cuáron.

  • kyriacos

    I still don’t get it.. what’s with the time schedules?
    How on earth a director change can speed up the process anyway?


  • This makes me ridiculously happy. The Hobbit was so far beneath Mr. Del Toro, considering there is very little point in bother (especially over TWO features!) after the the LotR trilogy. What more is left to say. Another boring ‘prequel’ movie. It would have been del Toro’s first belaboured cash cow.

    Hopefully the man can get back to some original and interesting (read: Lovecraft!) projects.

  • Gigi

    i fuckin hated the lord of the rings. hobbit only interested me because del toro was involved. do it don’t do it, whatever. i’ll watch anything else by del toro.

  • “This makes me ridiculously happy. The Hobbit was so far beneath Mr. Del Toro”

    yeah right, because The Hobbit would force your Spanish hero to actually do a decent third act…he’s a glorified Art Director and you know it Kurt.

  • Unless Stanley Kubrick rose from the grave to take the reins, I don’t think anyone could beat the LOTR trilogy with a Hobbit series. LOTR is a superior story on paper that got a near-perfect celluloid translation.

    To me, adapting The Hobbit is like Michael Jordan coming back to play for the Wizards, it wont be as good as what I saw ten years ago, and I’m not going to care.

  • Dave

    “Another boring ‘prequel’ movie.”

    Way to judge a movie before it even has a cast, Kurt.

  • Ignore Kurt, he’s an idiot sometimes.

  • patrick

    4 Words:

    Brett Ranter’s The Hobbit

  • GORT

    Good thing he pulled out, wouldn’t want to get the hobbit pregnant.

  • kyriacos

    Pans labyrinth has a 3rd act Rus, and so does Devil’s back bone..

    He is not the best director out there but really compared to what is out there directing now days..

    He is at least on the Top 20..

  • Paul Andrews

    Terrible news. It would have been amazing.

  • kyriacos – you fell right in to my hands. Those two films are examples why he is so over-hyped as a writer. He uses the Spanish civil war in both, like all his films, aaaah no originally there and Pan’s Labyrinth is a pure fable with no fulfilling closure, or sense, that people lap-up like the milk for the root creature.

    Pan is like all his films – an excuse to do creature designs that are not tied to the story at all. I submit the unknowable fable in Pan’s Labyrinth is a dupe by Del Toro to make a creature art film. By making it unknowable you are free to do whatever you want, and in this case get critical accolades too. Its the same think you see in independent circles, throw in enough family disfunction and an east coast setting and you are truly indy, whatever.

    Prove me wrong, you can’t, because there is no way to definitively establish what the story is about, or what the labyrinth really is there for. Nothing is earned by the child in Labyrinth, she is given everything by the creatures, that is bad screenwriting 101.

    Its a good film but again people, like Kurt, have been duped. People give him credit because he is more artistic than say Robert Rodriguez, but in my opinion neither spends the time to create a satisfying story, character development and THIRD ACT.

    I like art direction probably more than anyone on these boards, but lets not give Del Toro more credit than he deserves. Without his SUPERIOR art direction he would be an average director.

    The Hobbit would have been the film were he could have the best of both worlds – numerous creature designs that have an ACTUAL BACKSTORY AND ARE TIED TO THE STORY AT HAND.

  • Maopheus

    It sucks that GDT has pulled out, but considering how long it’s taken and the delays, first with the legal stuff between Wingnut and New Line and now MGM’s problems, there are just too many issues to have to wade through. Ignoring all of that, you have a problem with trying to adapt a story that is very different in tone, detail and depth from the LOTR. Also, as is the problem with any prequel, you already know what’s going to happen. Their decision to go with a two film project is problematic because of where the split occurs and then having to essentially flesh out the second movie from scratch and a few scarce details that Tolkien threw into his chronology. You have the other problem where the cast (whoever they are) isn’t going to sit around forever waiting for things to be greenlit. I mean, if GDT couldn’t commit, and he would have had to commit more time anyway, it would probably scare off any of the more likely committed actors to the cast like McKellen, Serkis, Weaving, etc. It may be for the best that they table this whole project. I think it’s better to not try it then screw around and come out with a crap product. Considering the not-so-great track record of prequels to great movie series, I don’t see much upside, and a whole lot of downside. As a Tolkien/LOTR fan (although not by any means as big as others) I would have loved to have seen a Hobbit film, but given the current environment and circumstances, I think they should fold up shop.

  • Uh, he uses the Spanish civil war in The Devil’s Backbone. But’s it is WWII in Pan’s Labyrinth. There is a difference of more than 6 years!

    I’ve read the Hobbit several times, and there is simply not enough material to bloat it out to two films. I think Jackson and Company did the right thing with the Extended Edition Versions of LoTR, but the story is much more epic in scope than The Hobbit’s Dragon and Treasure story.

    The Hobbit (especially the two film version) is a cash cow through and through…I do not think I’m out to lunch on this, but yea, give it to some Jobber director and don’t bother with the auteurs please.

    And I stand by my ‘prequel statement’ as they are certainly going to bring back whatever LotR cast they can shoe-horn in there, they are going to more than likely shoot it in the Peter Jackson (Weta) style, and the Hobbit is radically different in tone than LotR. This is Star Wars Prequel territory folks. Seriously.

  • Maopheus

    Upon reading the Hobbit, you find out three things. One is that Tolkien wrote it as a children’s story without knowing that he would then write the Rings books as a follow-up. He had no commercial inclination to his writing endeavors at all. There are mounds of contradictory examples especially in the depiction of Elrond which is very different from the Rings books. There are some (that would seem to us) goofy scenes like the animals in Beorn’s home walking on two legs. Two is that almost everyone sings. It’s like a musical. The dwarves sing. The elves sing. The goblins sing. The spiders sing. Hell I think even the eagles sing. Three, and most important, is that Tolkien was still developing his writer’s craft with the Hobbit. The plot is very repetitive. Basically the heroes get into a problem, wait around, get bailed out. This repeats about 5 times in the book. At least. And they wait long periods of time. Then the final battle of the Five Armies, which I assume would get really fleshed out in the film, is kinda glossed over pretty fast. So the book has inherent pacing problems that don’t translate well to film at all.

  • Synopsis: Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, PAN’S LABYRINTH is a thrilling, violent fairy tale set in post-Civil War Spain…

    How can you compare to Star Wars prequels were one (The Hobbit) was actually written as a prequel to LOTR, were as, the Stars Wars prequels were admittedly made-up after the fact.

    Stop making up facts to support your argument Kurt.

  • Uh, yea. POST-Civil War Spain.

    (Post means AFTER, it was 1944 and WWII at the time, the Spanish Civil War ended before 1940. The Devil’s Backbone was set in the 1930s.)

    Also, you mention that del Toro is Spanish in your post above. He is Mexican. Just like if you are from America, you are not British. (nya!)

    I’m not making up facts, rus, you appear not to have yours in order!

  • The Devil’s Backbone: It is 1939, the end of three years of bloody civil war in Spain, and General Franco’s right-wing Nationalists…

    PAN’S LABYRINTH is a thrilling, violent fairy tale set in post-Civil War Spain…

    my point is made, Kurt is hanging on to something for no reason.

    He conveniently ignored my comment on his il advised comparison of The Hobbit to The Star Wars prequels.

    You got me on the Spanish / Mexican thing, I guess because he is ALWAYS USING THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR AS A BACKDROP FOOLED ME!

  • The Prequel analogy is not a perfect one, but it does make my point. Consider the tonal differences between LotR and The Hobbit. Consider the tonal differences between The Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy of Star Wars movies. I’m expecting that to be the end result -> Bloated Out needlessly and careening between kids movie and adult movie.

    Read Maopheus’ quote above, he kinda nails it on the head about the issues with The Hobbit and a transition (post-Rings) to the big screen.

  • …and Wikipedia on Backbone, “It is set in Spain, 1939 during the Spanish Civil War. ”

    Wikipedia on Pan’s, “Pan’s Labyrinth takes place in Spain, in May and June, 1944, five years after the Spanish Civil War…”

  • I like how both of our arguments have now come down to “depth”. You can fight for your read of Del Toro’s variety of time and place but the only thing that matters is what’s on the screen. In this way, many of his films draw on a common time period in Spain, he has said as much.

    Depth also plays in to the insane comparison of Star Wars and LOTR prequels were you want to compare one of the most developed works in literature, were the origin of the task began in one man wanting to invent a new language, and a series of films that were made after the fact by a man that really had no idea were he was going to go. To quote Lucas, “Then it hit me a trade embargo.” You are going to compare that to a body of work that includes The Silmarillion! I think you need a better comparison, like Dune maybe, I don’t know but not this…

    Here is fact, no body of work has more to draw from then Tolkien. The Hobbit could be done as a simple kids tale (as it was originally conceived) and it would be better than 95% of the stories coming out of Hollywood. The story has incredible things to see realized on screen, to name a few:
    Gollum’s Cave
    Gandalf and Bilbo’s first meeting

  • The Silmarillion doesn’t enter into the equation. We are talking The Hobbit. And we are talking the film incarnations of Tolkien’s Work. And I can’t imagine Newline/Weta/MGM ever making a Hobbit movie that will be shackled to the style and feel of Lord of The Rings…which in my opinion is completely the wrong approach to the subject matter.

  • Jason

    >**This makes me ridiculously happy. The Hobbit was so far beneath Mr. Del Toro, considering there is very little point in bother (especially over TWO features!) after the the LotR trilogy. What more is left to say. Another boring ‘prequel’ movie. It would have been del Toro’s first belaboured cash cow.**

    Can you please make your self clearer instead of just spitting out random sentences without telling us why you mean it?
    It’s not another boring prequel movie. It’s based on another Tolkien book, another story, just connected with the LOTR universe. It’s stupid to even compare the quality of prequels, which are almost always made because of their huge income, with another story. And also Peter Jackson didn’t seem to make his movies lack of quality from the others when he made 3 movies, now did he? Del Toro’s sequel Hellboy 2 was also a much, much better than the first one (although it also rocked).
    You can’t even compare this to the Star Wars prequels. He didn’t make LOTR up, nor did he make The Hobbit. Both of them were books written and published by Tolkein himself (I believe The Hobbit even came out before the LOTR books). The Hobbit and it’s contents is much more of adventure, like the first LOTR film (that everyone loves).

    And why are you happy that Del Toro dropped out. Why being happy? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see this imaginative genius jump into Tolkein’s world? What is so bad seeing him even trying, what makes you happy that he won’t? Do you know about any other director that would fit that position any better?

  • Mason

    What is with these claims about third act rush? Define an act in a movie (please come with examples too), and how his movies don’t have them.

  • Jason

    >>** Uh, he uses the Spanish civil war in The Devil’s Backbone. But’s it is WWII in Pan’s Labyrinth. There is a difference of more than 6 years!**

    Lol, Mr history professor, Spain WAS NEVER INVOLVED IN WW2!

  • You disappoint me Kurt, in an era were Hollywood greenlights stuff based on TV shows and toys (and original stories can not get a foothold) why would you not support something actually based on GOOD SOURCE MATERIAL.

    You’re throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  • I thought I was making myself perfectly clear. I’d rather see Guillermo Del Toro making his own visions over another trip to Middle Earth. In your quotation above, Jason, you forgot the context, i.e. my last sentence was not cut and pasted, “Hopefully the man can get back to some original and interesting (read: Lovecraft!) projects.”

    I can certainly compare these to the Star Wars Prequels. You are going back to flesh out the origin story of Bilbo Baggins, Gollum, and how the Hobbits came by the Ring of Power. Sure there is more to The Hobbit, but it’s not that great a story compared to LotR, so you are into diminishing returns right out of the gate. My opinion is that I’d rather see a director like GdT work on different things. THAT IS WHAT MAKES ME RIDICULOUSLY HAPPY.

    Your mileage may vary.

  • Trust me, just because I’d rather GdT not spend his energy on THE HOBBIT, does not in any way make me an advocate for BattleShip: THE MOVIE or I DREAM OF JEANNIE. Those are far more systematic hollywood problems. And really besides the point.

    And no, I don’t think The Hobbit is ‘REALLY GOOD SOURCE MATERIAL’ merely adequate. A first kick at the can, a way to for J.R.R. find his writing-voice for his masterpiece, LotR. Now that that is done, I’d be completely accurate in saying that my enthusiasm for a lesser novel being made into TWO features (probably in 3D) is not very high.

    I’m not being stubborn here, this was my original point, even if I made it in such a fashion that i’ve seemingly offended most of the posters in this thread.

    I’m not trolling. I’m sure I’m not alone on this either.

  • Not trying to be a history professor here (I’m no expert). I’m just saying that it wasn’t the SPANISH CIVIL WAR in 1944. And yea, WWII was going on in Europe, and yea, it’s hard to ignore that Spain was not en-meshed in things.

    I’ll let Wikipedia do my ‘history lesson’ this time:

    “In September 1939, World War II broke out in Europe, and although Hitler met Franco once in Hendaye, France (23 October 1940), to discuss Spanish entry on the side of the Axis, Franco’s demands (food, military equipment, Gibraltar, French North Africa etc.) proved too much and no agreement was reached. (An oft-cited remark attributed to Hitler is that the German leader would rather have some teeth extracted than to have to deal further with Franco). Franco’s tactics received important support from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during the civil war. He remained emphatically neutral in the Second World War, but nonetheless offered various kinds of support to Italy and Germany. He allowed Spanish soldiers to volunteer to fight in the German Army against the USSR (the Blue Division), but forbade Spaniards to fight in the West against the democracies. Franco’s common ground with Hitler was particularly weakened by Hitler’s propagation of a pseudo-pagan mysticism and his attempts to manipulate Christianity, which went against Franco’s deep commitment to defending Christianity and Catholicism.[citation needed] Contributing to the disagreement was an ongoing dispute over German mining rights in Spain. Some historians argue that Franco made demands that he knew Hitler would not accede to in order to stay out of the war.[citation needed] Other historians argue that he, as leader of a destroyed country in chaos, simply had nothing to offer the Germans and their military.[citation needed] Yet, after the collapse of France in June 1940, Spain did adopt a pro-Axis non-belligerency stance (for example, he offered Spanish naval facilities to German ships) until returning to complete neutrality in 1943 when the tide of the war had turned decisively against Germany and its allies. ”

    But we have gotten waaaay off point. My original point was that Rus in Chicago indicated that Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth rely on the same ‘background’ to tell their story. There is a significant span in time between the two.

  • Can you be considered trolling if you are on here advocating that THE TROLLS not make it to the big screen (live action)!!!????

    ooooh yeah, he shoots, he scores!

  • :)

    I even used that image in the Rowthree post on this.

    Well played.

  • kyriacos

    Rus, I don’t think anyone considers Del.T a great writer. But since you mention the script in Pans labyrinth,Sometimes is good to tell stories with complete freedom and to let the visuals really contribute to the telling of that story. One thing I hate the most is Hollywood wrap-ups with convenient plot-devises or “explanation-phrases” in order for things to make sense for everyone. That is why I do not like “El Orfanato”. or Illuminati!! What you consider as a flaw in Pans Labyrinth I think is what makes that movie great. Sometimes is good not to strangle audience imagination.. Some movies just work without smarty-pants plot-twists. What is the point to make a fantasy-film that does not excites the imagination or does not sparkle a little controversy at the end?
    You know how many solutions he could had used in order to create your kind of movie?

    Infinite mate.

    I think he managed to find the golden mean.

    ?ans labyrinth is not an artsy-fartsy indie-film nor a completely dulled down conventional Hollywood production.

  • I agree with needing variety but I honestly think he pulled a fast one on everyone with Pan. I look at the reuse of the Spanish Civil War (era, time, whatever) and the mystery of the folktale as an excuse to do another creature feature. He hit a homerun because everyone loved the mystery. My point is, I don’t think there is any mystery, just a lot of stuff that looks cool.

    He does this stuff all the time, look at the eco creature in Hellboy II – nothing more than an excuse for Del Toro to do his version of a “green” monster. It had nothing to do with the story and it actually hurts the film because it “de-fangs” all the monsters in the film world he is trying to create. It “defangs” the other creatures because they sale it as some viscous thingie, show it’s epic size, then kill it off rather easily. You could say that scene is not about that creature, but use some originality and give us both a creature that fits what the scene is about and way to kill it that supports the story and/or the main character’s journey.

    Someone asked about third act, compare Pan with other films that have active young protagonist. Look at the best example, Wizard of Oz, were the young female is active on the quest making decisions, the third act means something to both her physical and nonphysical story (what the film is really about). Someone tell me what the physical and nonphysical story of Pan’s Labyrinth is about?

  • rob

    i agree that pans labryinth didnt have the best storyline, but all of his films stand out because of his visual style
    and with peter jackson supervising the production the Hobbit films would have looked great – adding the fantastical sequences that didnt happen in the LOTR films whilst keeping the great storylines and glorious hairy feet!

  • Antho42

    Rus in Chicago–In time that it would of required Del Toro to film The Hobbit, he could of done 3 to 4 original, smaller budget films. Heck, using your terminology, I rather see three early to mid 20th century Spanish films than a bloated two films on an inspiring kid’s novel.

  • kyriacos

    hey Rus,
    I did not liked Hellboy either, I couldn’t sit through it, and as a result I don’t remember much. (…)

    In pans Labyrinth I agree with you there is not this Kind -wizard of oz- 3rd act. But its just not that Kind of movie man. First of All the girl is not the protagonist, The protagonist for me is the Doctor-the Spanish People. The girl is just an allegory for innocence. (afelia in Greek) To be accurate the film does not has a conventional protagonist its not a typical one man show like Taxi driver or The wrestler were you follow the protagonist’s linear story line.
    Pans labyrinth is more like a window into that era with the girl’s story as a parenthesis to expose the tragic irony of war. (The dream sequences in the film are so riveting that the “reality” sequences sometimes pale in comparison).

    Pan In ancient Greece was thought to be the God of nature, of earthly life, of reality you might say. He was the only God that Died according to Greek Mythology (because he was not actually a God). He was also abandoned by his mother and rescued by Gods. (Just like Ofelia in a way)

    Having in mind the Thomas Jefferson’s famous quotation:

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

    I think the movie takes an entire new meaning..

    well Thomas jefferson was not the fist to say that of course..
    Again in Ancient Greece it was believed that the only way for an anomaly to end was for an innocent to die..
    That is what it takes for people to wake up and learn the Truth. Ofelia dies at the end but you get to see her sitting as a princes on her enormous throne. Ofcourse she is Dead, And that is sad and depressing (if you are not a sociopath and do care about people);). With that final scene though you get the chance to choose to accept that the imaginary world existed and escape in that world your self.

    I know it sounds lame describing it like this, but I think in the movie it works better.

    Yes, of course Pans Labyrinth is not the best movie to teach film students about plot development, but I am sure it couldn’t have been the same Film if it followed the classic central-character pattern.

  • I think this is why I go back to my original premise that Del Toro is a a glorified art director; Pans Labyrinth is ambiguous to the point of hurting itself and leaving me unfulfilled. I like ambiguous movies like Jacob’s Ladder, but if you are going down that road as a director you better be sure of your shit. I know I’m in the minority because millions love Pan.

    I just look at the weakness in Pans Labyrinth, compare it to the weakness in the Hellboy series, and I believe Del Toro needs to get out of the creature shop and in to the writers room. The Hobbit would have been a great project for him as the characters, dialog and climax would be already set. oh well….

  • kyriacos

    Jacob’s Ladder was awesome, but still way different Kind of movie. First of all it does have a rationalistic ending. Pans labyrinth one might say is doing the exact opposite: It tries to make the audience endorse irrationality and escape to that world in order to be happy..

    Of-course I understand why you don’t like the movie, normally the points you make bug me as well, But in this movie The movie just works for me. Sure The rest of Del Toro films are flirting with shit, but he is not the only director that has shitty movies, Most of the directors out there just have one Good movie and then they keep repeating themselves. Even CrissNolan flirts with that notion in my books. Nevertheless everyone is entitle to an opinion mate and I am fine with that. Especially when thy can back it up I am more than fine. ;)