For many, the news that Guillermo del Toro had to step away from the beleaguered Hobbit films was just another strike in a long line of bad news. In fact, it now looks like MGM’s recent financial woes have relegated the film, along with the next James Bond and god knows what else, to production hell.
For Peter Jackson, seeing his pet projects go down the toilet must be becoming a commonplace experience (Hello, Halo!), but for Hobbit fans and del Toro alike, this can’t be good. Anyone who loves the works of Tolkien or was blown to pieces by Peter Jackson’s sweeping Lord of the Rings trilogy will greet the news of further delays with gnashing teeth, but the films stand a pretty good chance of being made someday — though it might take a mercy shot to the back of MGM’s head to get it done. On the other hand, del Toro uprooted his life and transplanted it in New Zealand for the duration of a two-movie series that now looks like it won’t get made any time soon, stepping away only when the slipping production schedule started to clash with other projects. Del Toro’s hoping to remain involved in a writing capacity, but it’s not the same as laying his sizzling directorial brand on the firm flesh of a Tolkien prequel, and one that would have easily bumped him from cultish auteur to A-list director.
Guillermo del Toro’s clear stylistic signature would have been ideally suited to The Hobbit. He would have given the project an identity distinct from that of Jackson’s tour de force, and likely given the audience more than enough of his signature eye-candy to drool over, because hey, that’s what del Toro does. With him essentially out of the picture, it will be interesting to see what happens with the films — once somebody’s found a way to save the project.