Who Should Replace Guillermo Del Toro As Director of THE HOBBIT?

     May 31, 2010

peter_jackson_sam_raimi_the_hobbit_slice

As we learned yesterday, Guillermo Del Toro will no longer direct Peter Jackson’s production of The Hobbit due to uncertainty with MGM. Del Toro leaves the director’s chair vacant after two years of pre-production. The start date for the film is still up in the air and Jackson even said recently the film has never been greenlit. While this all sounds eerily familiar to Jackson’s failed attempts at a Halo movie a few years back, MGM has a lot riding on the success of this movie and it would be hard to imagine a scenario in which this film didn’t come together in the end.

With the director’s chair now empty on one of the biggest projects in recent memory, we’ve put together a list of who we’d like to see behind the camera. Hit the jump for our suggestions and make sure to leave your comments on who you’d like to see directing.

While directing a film of this magnitude is most directors’ dreams, keep in mind that production will take place in New Zealand and will require a commitment of about three years (or more), so the job isn’t without its faults.

OBVIOUS FIRST CHOICE

peter_jackson_imagePeter Jackson

This goes without saying. We all scratched our heads when Jackson announced that he would only produce the prequels to his highly successful Lord Of The Rings series. Jackson directing would all but ensure a greenlight given his past LOTR and King Kong successes. We all know he would be the best person to direct this movie: he’s got the big budget experience, he knows these characters intimately and his previous work in the series has yielded three of the most celebrated films of all time. He’s also one of the writers on The Hobbit.  Enough said.

Potential issue: Jackson’s commitment to direct the sequel to Steven Spielberg’s Tintin film, another series Jackson has worked behind the scenes on for the past few years, could be the biggest hold up preventing a Jackson-Middle Earth reunion.

THE WISH-LIST

alfonso_cuaronAlfonso Cuarón

He’d get the recommendation from close friend Guillermo Del Toro. He directed arguably the best volume in the biggest fantasy series of all time (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) aside from making some of the best movies of the past decade (Y Tu Mamá También and Children of Men). He has the experience working on a big budget fantasy film and with some guidance from Del Toro and Jackson he could provide a very interesting take on The Hobbit.

Potential issue: Cuarón is currently committed to filming Gravity with Robert Downey Jr. in London this summer, but given MGM’s deep financial woes, he could possibly have time to wrap post-production on Gravity and move straight into The Hobbit.

neil_blomkamp_01Neill Blomkamp

Jackson was prepared to trust Blomkamp with Halo before pre-production woes causes the project to be scrapped. Jackson produced Blomkamp’s directorial debut, the Best Picture Nominated District 9, and handing him the reins to The Hobbit doesn’t seem preposterous. Jackson and Blomkamp have a good producer-director relationship and “From the team that brought you the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and District 9” doesn’t sound half bad.

Potential issue: Read this article. If Blomkamp is set on the philosophy he outlined in the above article (wants to continue to make low budget films, already committed to a secret sci-fi project) then he won’t be on the Hobbit set anytime soon. Then again, if he followed up District 9 with a successful Hobbit adaptation, he would have the credibility to pick his projects for the rest of his career.

david_yates_01David Yates

As director of the ultra-successful Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the upcoming two-part conclusion to the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts I & II, Yates has extensive experience working with huge budgets with huge expectations, not to mention the common fantasy element between Potter and The Hobbit.

Potential issue: Yates still has to finish post-production on the two-party Potter finale and given that the second part isn’t released until next summer, Yates might be tied up for a while. However, with MGM’s financial uncertainty, there’s a slight chance there would be time for Yates.

sam_raimi_cameraSam Raimi

He directed all three Spider-Man films, so he knows how to work with a lot of pressure and a big budget. He also expressed interest and was considered to direct The Hobbit before Del Toro was selected.

Potential issue: Raimi is currently developing a film based on the Warcraft universe after he was relieved of his duties as director of the Spider-Man franchise. His involvement with Warcraft seems to suggest an interest in making a fantasy film and given his past statements, I think Raimi would gladly leave Warcraft for the greener pastures of New Zealand.

gift_short_film_carl_erik_rinsch_01Carl Erik Rinsch

The sci-fi world’s whiz-kid given his commercial resume and his short film The Gift has been linked to many big projects (Alien prequel, Creature From the Black Lagoon reboot, Logan’s Run remake) yet he still has doesn’t have a complete feature film under his belt. His connection with Ridley Scott would yield a big-time recommendation and given Jackson’s success last year producing unknown filmmaker Neill Blomkamp on District 9, Jackson might choose that route again. It would also allow Jackson to have significant creative influence given the no-name director.

Potential issue: Rinsch’s commitment to 47 Ronin as his next (and first) project might be an issue, but it would be hard to pass up The Hobbit. If offered, I think its safe to say he’d take the job.

UNREALISTIC WISH-LIST

Tin Tin-Peter Jackson & Steven SpielbergSteven Spielberg

The only reason this is remotely possible (although no one in their right mind would bet on this one) is Spielberg’s relationship with Jackson through Tintin. Given that Jackson is committed to directing the Tintin sequel with Spielberg producing (a role reversal from the first Tintin film that Spielberg is currently finishing) and the announcement that Spielberg’s next picture would be the underwhelming War Horse, there’s always that one in the million chance that Spielberg would prefer to continue his relationship with Jackson on The Hobbit and direct another sci-fi/fantasy epic.

Potential issue: The previously mentioned War Horse and a plethora of other films Spielberg has in production.

jj_abrams_image__2_J.J. Abrams

He’s already worked his magic on another huge geek property (Star Trek) and proved he’s more than capable with sci-fi/”fantasy” with Lost so why not trust him with another big series. His experiences filming in Hawaii (Lost) would be good preparation for New Zealand and the Star Trek universe has similar creative challenges to Middle-Earth.

Potential issue: Given his many producing responsibilities and lack of experience on a project of this ridiculous magnitude, Abrams is unlikely. He also seems to prefer to be involved with production/scripting from day one and he wouldn’t have that option on Hobbit.  Finally, Star Trek 2 is still on the horizon .

MY PICK:

My bet is on Raimi. He was interested in the past and as this weekend continued to prove with Prince of Persia, video game movies don’t strike a chord with audiences. I say Raimi leaves Warcraft behind for Middle-Earth.

So who do you think will take on The Hobbit?  Leave it in the comments below.

Sam Raimi image (2)

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