The Hollywood Reporter confirms what many fanboys have been guessing and hoping and hoping and guessing ever since Peter Jackson announced that he would be producing The Hobbit but not directing it:
Guillermo del Toro is in talks to direct back-to-back installments of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” which is being co-financed by New Line and MGM. . . .
Few filmmakers have the cachet that del Toro has, as well as a deep love for the source material, an assured grasp of fantasy filmmaking and an understanding and command of geek culture as well as its respect. Del Toro has built that goodwill through such films as the Oscar-nominated “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy,” “Blade 2″ (which was made by New Line) and “The Devil’s Backbone.” . . .
Because of the strike, no writer has been hired to adapt Tolkien’s children’s classic, though that process will be fast-tracked once it’s resolved. Del Toro and Jackson will oversee “Hobbit’s” writing.
Principal photography for the films, which will be shot simultaneously, is tentatively set for 2009. The production budget is estimated at $150 million per film. The release of the first film is slated for 2010 and the second in 2011. . . .
I have had mixed to negative feelings about the four Del Toro films that I’ve seen (basically the four films mentioned above, except replace The Devil’s Backbone with Mimic), so I’m not sure what to make of this news. At any rate, it will be interesting to see if Del Toro can rein in some of his darker impulses and stay true to the spirit of what is, essentially, a children’s story — and it will be interesting to see how the second film makes the segue from that children’s story to the larger, more grown-up story that Peter Jackson has already adapted (i.e. the Lord of the Rings trilogy).