The long-rumoured belief is now official: Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro will helm a film adaptation of JRR Tolkein's The Hobbit. The announcement was made yesterday by the team that turned The Lord of the Rings into a multi-billion-dollar movie franchise. Peter Jackson and his team will work with del Toro to adapt The Hobbit, with a second film planned to cover the sixty years between that story and The Lord of the Rings.
Variety speculates the films will be released 2011 and 2012, with del Toro moving to New Zealand for four years to complete this mammoth project [once he's finished post-production on Hellboy 2]. The two films will be shot back to back in NZ, just as happened with the Rings trilogy. The involvement of del Toro had been rumoured for months, ever since New Line and Jackson settled a legal dispute over the smash hit trilogy.
When I was in New Zealand last month I paid a visit to Weta Workshops in Miramar - a suburb of the capital city Wellington now known as Wellywood for its plethora of filmmaking activities. One of the Weta team let slip del Toro had been in the previous week, touring the workshops and talking with Jackson about future projects. It didn't take a genius to figure out The Hobbit would be one of those projects. Frankly, I can't wait to see the results, such as fire-breathing dragon Smaug. Roll on 2011 and 2012.