Guillermo del Toro has been one of the primary names associated with the new adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit for some time. Now it seems he's in official talks to co-write and direct the two-part fantasy epic, while Peter Jackson remains on board as an executive producer with "approval over creative elements of the film."
The Hollywood Reporter cites Jackson's busy schedule with The Lovely Bones and Tintin as reasons why the Kiwi director won't be personally taking the reigns of these new Tolkien adaptations.
This has to be a (potential) decision that will please a lot of fanboys and girls. If Jackson isn't going to do it himself, at least the immensely capable director who's brought us Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, The Devil's Backbone, and Cronos is seriously thinking about it.
THR puts the budget for the films around $150 million, and estimates that production will begin sometime in 2009. The first film would be released in 2010, the second in 2011.
It seems odd that a busy director like Jackson would pass this project off to an even busier director like del Toro. I know I've made a list of all of the portly auteur's potential projects in the past, but just as a reminder, he's been linked to The Champions, At the Mountains of Madness, 3993, Haters, and his own adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Beyond that, just look at all that he's in the midst of producing (at least according to the sporadically accurate IMDb). Well, if I don't know when he's going to get all of this done, I'm at least glad the man is keeping busy, because he's proving himself to be one of the most talented up-and-coming filmmakers in cinema today.