The Hobbit's Director Officially Named!

As anticipated, New Line Cinema and MGM officially announced today that Guillermo Del Toro will be directing The Hobbit and the heretofore unnamed sequel based on the events between Bilbo's adventure and Frodo's quest (perhaps dealing with the "Necromancer" in southern Mirkwood?). Here's the details from their press release:

Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth," "Hellboy," "Blade 2") will direct "The Hobbit" and its sequel, it was jointly announced today by "The Hobbit" Executive Producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, New Line Cinema's President and COO Toby Emmerich, and Mary Parent, Chairperson, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM).

"Guillermo is a filmmaker of outstanding ability; he is a genuine storyteller who brings a tremendous amount of passion, energy and imagination to his work. A true original, Guillermo is a cinematic magician who has never lost his child-like sense of wonder. He understands that the fantastic must be grounded in the real and that all stories are only ever a reflection of ourselves," say Jackson and Walsh. "We have long admired Guillermo's work and cannot think of a more inspired filmmaker to take the journey back to Middle-earth. We are delighted ‘The Hobbit' is in such trustworthy hands."

Del Toro says, "This is a great honor, and I am indeed blessed to become a part of the filmmaking community that Peter, Fran and their extraordinary team of collaborators have created in New Zealand. I want to thank them, Bob Shaye, Michael Lynne, Toby Emmerich and Mark Ordesky for entrusting me with such an incredible project. Contributing to the ‘Lord of the Rings' legacy is an absolute dream come true."

Comments Emmerich, "Guillermo has a proven ability to bring fantasy worlds to life in a compelling and emotional way. He is the ideal filmmaker to work with Peter and Fran to bring Tolkien's beloved Middle-earth back to the screen."

Parent adds: "As the international distributors for ‘The Hobbit' films, we couldn't agree more with Peter, Fran and our partners at New Line, Guillermo is the perfect choice to direct. Audiences across the globe enjoy his unique cinematic viewpoint, imaginative direction and provocative storytelling talents. His vision, in collaboration with Peter and Fran, will ensure ‘The Hobbit' as a very special film experience for audiences worldwide."

Del Toro will move to New Zealand for the next four years to work with Jackson and his Wingnut and WETA production teams. He will helm the two films back to back – telling the story of "The Hobbit," and its sequel, which will deal with the 60-year period between "The Hobbit" and "The Fellowship of the Ring," the first of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

New Line is overseeing development and will manage the production. "The Hobbit" and its sequel are being co-produced and co-financed by New Line Cinema and MGM, with Warner Brothers distributing domestically and MGM distributing internationally. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are executive producing the films.

Personally, I think Del Toro is wonderful director to follow up Jackson.  He has a great vision with his films, and I think will bring a certain freshness to The Hobbit that a purely Peter Jackson film wouldn't have.  Here's to looking forward to each of the films' releases in 2011 and 2012!

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