Following news that MGM's fiscal woes would delay production on the two Hobbit films, Guillermo Delo Toro has decided to leave the project rather than sit around New Zealand for a few years. You can tell Gandalf is concerned.
The director said in a statement to The One Ring:
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 wlsh 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.”
Executive producer Peter Jackson continued the statement, assuring Del Toro is continuing to assist on the screenplay and that the search for a new director is in progress. It's just like in Lord of the Rings when Frodo nearly makes it to Mordor but then, due to the Fellowship's financial problems, he's told he has to live in the greater Mordor area for a while while they get their shit together so he just decides to forget it. Tolkien's writings still resonate today.
(Thanks, Mike and The Chief.)