Guillermo del Toro Leaves "The Hobbit" 

Guillermo del Toro has announced he is leaving "The Hobbit" after spending the last two years developing the J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation. He's simply frustrated with the production's repeated delays. But del Toro would continue to serve as one of the co-writers of the screenplays along with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Phillippa Boyens.

Here's del Toro's explanation of why he's leaving from

“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”, says Guillermo. “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”.

Now, the is reporting that Jackson may step in to direct "The Hobbit" "if it becomes the only way to ensure the US$150 million (NZ$219m) film is made after the sudden departure of director Guillermo del Toro."

Here's a neat snapshot of the long road to "The Hobbit" courtesy of

2003: The Lord of Rings trilogy earns US$2.91 billion (NZ$4.2 b) at the box office

December 2007: New Line Cinema and MGM announce that Jackson and Fran Walsh will be executive producers of The Hobbit, a two-part prequel to The Lord of the Rings, to be largely shot in Wellington. Tentative start date on filming is 2009.

April 2008: Guillermo del Toro joins as director and co-screenwriter with Jackson, Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

July 2009: Jackson says The Hobbit still technically has to get "the green light" from the studios and has no budget.

November 2009: MGM, US$3.7 billion (NZ$5.4b) in debt, is put up for sale.

March 2010: Del Toro says studios are considering making the film in 3-D.

April 2010: The 23rd James Bond film, another MGM project, is postponed indefinitely.

Last week: While promoting the film Splice , of which he is an executive producer, del Toro says he has been in a "tangled negotiation" with The Hobbit because of problems with MGM.

And then del Toro quit.

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