It’s a tough job pleasing avid Lord of the Rings fans, but most agreed that if anyone except Peter Jackson was going to direct the two-part adaptation of The Hobbit, Guillermo Del Toro was the man for the job. As a result there was a bit of a cry of anguish yesterday when the Mexican director exited the job, saying uncertainty over the future of MGM meant that without a start date in sight, he couldn’t commit the time to The Hobbit he would need to. He’d moved to New Zealand last year, expecting to have already started shooting by now, but currently MGM’s problems mean there’s no start date in sight.
So who’s going to replace him? While names such as Alfonso Cuaron have already been bandied around by those looking for a helmer with vision, how about Peter Jackson returning? While he’s always said he’d only co-write and produce, it’s a slightly different situation when the director who’s worked with him on The Hobbit for the past two years has walked out.
Well, it seems that if push came to shove, Jackson would step in to direct, but only if he’s allowed to. He tells New Zealand’s Dominion Post that “If that’s what I have to do to protect Warner Bros’ investment, then obviously that’s one angle which I’ll explore. The other studios may not let me out of the contracts.”
And there we have the crux – even if he’s willing, he may not be able to. The Hobbit shoot is scheduled to last over a year, with another year of post-production on top of that. Currently he’s down to film the motion capture part of the second Tintin movie next year, and may well have deals elsewhere that aren’t currently public knowledge. The other studios would have to let him out of those contracts first, which they may not be willing to do. And whether we want Jackson directing if he’s only doing it out of a feeling of obligation is another matter to consider.
When asked when The Hobbit might be able to start shooting, Jackson adds, “I just don’t know now until we get a new director. The key thing is that we don’t intend to shut the project down. We don’t intend to let this affect the progress. Everybody, including the studio, wants to see things carry on as per normal. The idea is to make it as smooth a transition as we can.”
However with MGM in a financial quagmire, there’s still no sign of when the film might actually be able to get going. However if all else fails, let’s hope that Jackson can get others to agree to let him go to work on The Hobbit.