Damn! Damn! Damn! We knew something like this would happen sooner than later. According to various sources, Guillermo del Toro will no longer direct the live action adaptation of The Hobbit. The film has been in development hell for ages and the production start date continues to get shuffled so his decision shouldn’t really come as a shock. He released an official statement through the website TheOneRing announcing his departure, which is followed up by a response from executive producer Peter Jackson. See what they both had to say…

Del Toro’s statement:

“In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming “The Hobbit,” I am faced with the hardest decision of my life. After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures. I remain grateful to Peter, Fran and Philippa Boyens, New Line and Warner Brothers and to all my crew in New Zealand. I’ve been privileged to work in one of the greatest countries on earth with some of the best people ever in our craft and my life will be forever changed. The blessings have been plenty, but the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project. Both as a co-writer and as a director, I wish the production nothing but the very best of luck and I will be first in line to see the finished product. I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director.”

Jackson’s statement:

We feel very sad to see Guillermo leave the Hobbit, but he has kept us fully in the loop and we understand how the protracted development time on these two films, due to reasons beyond anyone’s control – has compromised his commitment to other long term projects. The bottom line is that Guillermo just didn’t feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years. Guillermo is one of the most remarkable creative spirits I’ve ever encountered and it has been a complete joy working with him. Guillermo’s strong vision is engrained into the scripts and designs of these two films, which are extremely fortunate to be blessed with his creative DNA.”

“Guillermo is co-writing the Hobbit screenplays with Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and myself, and happily our writing partnership will continue for several more months, until the scripts are fine tuned and polished. New Line and Warner Bros will sit down with us this week, to ensure a smooth and uneventful transition, as we secure a new director for the Hobbit. We do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing pre-production work.”

For those of you hoping that Jackson will step in to replace del Toro, it’s not happening. According to Deadline, his manager Ken Kamins stated, “Peter has and has had obligations and commitments to other films that would make it impossible for him to direct The Hobbit at this time, even if it was offered, which it hasn’t been.”

Even though The Hobbit is a fan favorite that people are dying to see on the big screen, it’s taking entirely too long to produce over at MGM. Both Jackson and del Toro have countless other projects that they could be working on that have a solid backing and have been greenlit by their respective studios. It’s unfortunate that it had to go down this way but as we stated earlier, we knew this would happen sooner than later.

What do you think about del Toro’s decision to leave The Hobbit? Who could replace him?