There was some unfortunate news released over the latter half of the weekend that I didn't get to comment on: Guillermo del Toro will not be directing THE HOBBIT. Del Toro has been committed to the project for the last few years, working on the screenplays and pre-production with LORD OF THE RINGS director Peter Jackson. Getting a man so adept in the fantasy genre (see: HELLBOY 2 or PANS LABYRINTH) in the director's chair was quite a boon and something that had me immensely excited for this project. At the moment though, it's not to be, Jackson will be seeking out a new director.
The reason for the departure is simple: MGM, who holds the rights, recently filed for bankruptcy and obviously is in no condition to greenlight the picture, which originally had a tentative release date in late 2011 (the next BOND picture is also indefinitely postponed). Del Toro was enough of a team player to stick out the original postponement to 2012, but when the word came down that part 1 of THE HOBBIT (it's been split into two films to be released a year apart) might not hit theaters until 2013, Del Toro jumped ship. And he's completely justified in doing so. The man originally agreed to give over three years of his life to these immense projects, but three had become six and that was simply too much of a time commitment. Del Toro has a book series he's anxious to continue work on, he's also an incredibly ambitious director with many potential projects lined up that couldn't be postponed until 2015.
I am sad that he won't be directing THE HOBBIT and who they'll get to replace him is something I won't even speculate to as I was so used to the idea of him at the helm. However, I remember being mildly saddened at his getting the job in the first place. Del Toro is too talented to be delayed for so long. If I couldn't see one of his films before 2013, I'd be very disappointed. He has a Frankenstein film on tap as well as Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" and, of course, a HELLBOY trilogy to round out. I'd love to see him involved in any of these projects. The whole nerd community is sad at his departure from the Tolkien adaptation, but these lemons are likely to make some very sweet lemonade.
If you want to read the official statement from Del Toro and Jackson, check out The One Ring.Net.