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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Now that Guillermo Del Toro has departed from the project, who should direct ‘The Hobbit’?

It was only this past Friday when learned that the Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit was stuck in preproduction limbo because of the disintegration of MGM, which holds some of the rights to the project. But all indications were that director Guillermo Del Toro was ready to go ahead as soon as the green light was received. As he said as a press conference (via ComingSoon.net):

We have designed all the creatures. We’ve designed the sets and the wardrobe. We have done animatics and planned battles sequences…. We are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered.

But then on Sunday came more news: Del Toro was stepping down as director (though he would continue to work on the scripts). In a statement to TheOneRing.net, Del Toro said:

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 wlsh 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 now we’re left with a major question: Now that Guillermo Del Toro has departed from the project, who should direct The Hobbit?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • Nate

    If Jackson isn’t stepping in, how about Alfonso Cuaron? He’s worked with Del Toro before on Pan’s Labyrinth and did a Harry Potter movie.

  • It should be a director who is passionate about the material, is intimately familiar with the look and feel of Peter Jackson’s trilogy, has some established rapport with the returning actors, has an excellent working relationship with WETA, and wouldn’t find it a hardship to live in New Zealand for an extended length of time.

    My vote goes to… Peter Jackson.

  • …Unless it would prevent Jackson from getting started on adapting the Temeraire novels. In which case I second Nate on Alfonso Cuaron.

  • Brian

    If it’s going to happen at all, I think it must be Jackson himself, and/or one of his WETA lieutenants, like Christian Rivers (who’s been penciled in to helm The Dam Busters for ages).

    Any other established director whose work would be worth watching would want to revisit all of the pre-production work, which would delay for at least another year on top of the legal delays. Meanwhile, Sir Ian and Viggo Mortensen are not getting any younger.

    I can’t blame GDT for his departure either. Who wants to be captain of a ship that can’t sail? He has way too many other irons on the fire, and a family at home. He can’t spend forever waiting in limbo in NZ.

  • JoshDM

    Forget who should direct The Hobbit. I want to know what Del Toro is going to direct now.

    Please be At the Mountains of Madness.

  • RyanT

    Since he already has proven himself somewhat last year with District 9 and has a business relationship with Peter Jackson already, why not Neill Blomkamp?

  • doa766

    peter weir

    I posted that on several sites, he’s the perfect choice

  • Patrick

    I, too, think Peter Weir would be an exciting choice.

  • Jim Mann

    It should be a director who is passionate about the material, is intimately familiar with the look and feel of Peter Jackson’s trilogy, has some established rapport with the returning actors, has an excellent working relationship with WETA, and wouldn’t find it a hardship to live in New Zealand for an extended length of time.

    My vote goes to… Peter Jackson.

    It depends upon whether you want someone to direct The Hobbit or to direct a prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

    The Hobbit is very different in tone than The Lord of the Rings. It’s much lighter, and much of what seems to be deep history in it only seems that way because of The Lord of the Rings. Given that, you can make The Hobbit as a much lighter film, matching the spirit of the novel (which is what the Rankin Bass animated version pretty much did), or you can make it with an eye toward the Lord of the Rings, with a darker tone fitting what is to come.

    Jackson would be great for the latter. I’m not sure he’d be as good for the former.

  • While I’m sure Del Toro could do “Mountains of Madness” justice, when I read it, it felt more like a tour of Lovecraft’s imagination than a story, so unless he made significant story changes, I can’t see it working as a movie.

  • Jackson would be great for the latter. I’m not sure he’d be as good for the former.

    I think you’re right.

    I wonder, though, if audiences who are already familiar with the LOTR films would accept a lighthearted, stand-alone Hobbit film that doesn’t foreshadow or tie into the trilogy. People seem to expect what comes “after” (in their reading/viewing experience, not in the storyline itself) to build on what came “before.” It makes sense that The Hobbit (the book) is a lighthearted adventure, since it was published first; the LOTR books darkened and deepened that world. Would it work the other way around, with the grand and grim moods and themes of the movie trilogy giving way to something much lighter in tone? Or would audiences who crave another dose of the LOTR experience just be left scratching their heads?

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