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Del Toro to direct the Hobbit and its sequel


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Well, here is the news for all your LotR fans!




Mexican-born filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has been named as the director of the film version of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and its proposed sequel.


The films, planned for release in 2010 and 2011, will be prequels to the Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by New Zealand's Peter Jackson.


"Contributing to the Lord of the Rings legacy is an absolute dream come true," said del Toro, 43.


Jackson will produce the films, to be made back-to-back in New Zealand.


According to studio New Line, the first will be an adaptation of The Hobbit, the novel Tolkien published before his Lord of the Rings cycle.


The second will be an original story focusing on the 60 years between the book and the beginning of the Rings trilogy.




Jackson and his wife and fellow executive producer Fran Walsh called del Toro "a cinematic magician who has never lost his childlike sense of wonder".


"We have long admired Guillermo's work and cannot think of a more inspired film-maker to take the journey back to Middle Earth," they said in a statement.


Del Toro's acclaimed fantasy Pan's Labyrinth won three Oscars and three Baftas in 2007.


His latest film, a sequel to his 2004 comic book adaptation Hellboy, is released later this year.


The director's involvement in the Hobbit films has been mooted for some time.


Earlier this month, however, del Toro said nothing was definite "until everything is signed and put on paper".


Sir Ian McKellen has already expressed an interest in reprising his Oscar-nominated role as the wizard Gandalf.

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The only things I can think of to cover between The hobbit and LotR are the White Council's actions regarding Sauron, and some backstory on Aragorn. Because otherwise there ain't much else in that space, certainly nothing to make a movie out of. And the extended cut of Two Towers did reference Aragorn's time serving under Theoden's father, so maybe that's the plan.

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  • 11 months later...

From the full, print version of the Empire interview in the latest issue:


Del Toro is now fully relocated to New Zealand. New Line and Warner Brothers have signed off on the film's concept and scripting has been underway for several weeks, consisting of everyone converging on Jackson's house at 9am and working on the script until 3pm, at which point Del Toro shoots off to WETA to look at pre-production art and maquettes and Jackson passes out (since Jackson has also spent four hours before the process starts linking up online with the studios in LA where Tintin is being filmed, and has been rounding off post on The Lovely Bones). The art and design team is now in place, with Alan Lee and John Howe returning and Del Toro's Hellboy collaborator Mike Mignola joining up as well. With Tintin drawing to a close, Jackson should be investing more energy in The Hobbit, but only briefly as he then has to go off in a few months to start shooting Tintin II (swapping producer/director chairs with Spielberg).


Actor-wise, casting has only just started. The only concrete plan is for McKellan and Serkis to return (both have verbally agreed but no contracts have been signed). Everything else is still up in the air. Neither Christopher Lee nor Viggo Mortensen nor Orlando Bloom's name were mentioned. Howard Shore is already making plans for the films' soundtrack.


The Hobbit will now span the two movies. A lot of the stuff in the 'inbetween' movie concept has been retained but now integrated into the timeframe of The Hobbit. Some elements that appear quite late in the day in The Hobbit, such as the character of Bard, will be given more of an introduction and build-up. The White Council, Gandalf, Dol Guldur and Sauron are the elements they are looking at focusing on. There will also be detailed flashbacks to Gandalf's journey to Dol Guldur and his meeting with Thrain. The Thrain-Thorin connection sounds like it will be used to integrate Gandalf's side-adventure with the story of Bilbo and the dwarves more closely. Pretty much every scene in The Hobbit should make it into the two movies. They confirm that Beorn and the Mirkwood spiders will be in the film. There will still be 13 dwarves but Del Toro wants to really explore five or six of them, presumably the ones who have a big role in the book or are referenced in the LotR (so presumably Gloin and Balin will have some screen-time). Jackson says specifically they don't want the gang to be Gandalf, Bilbo, Thorin and 12 random sidekicks.


Del Toro says he sees the films very much as Bilbo's journey 'there and back again' and the experiences he has that transform him. Despite the expanded scope, that will remain the core of the movies. He also says that some of the dramatically counter-intuitive moments from the book will stay. Bilbo will probably still be out cold during the Battle of Five Armies, as that's a favourite part of his from the book. Visually the films will be a continuity match for LotR: the Shire will look identical (hopefully), for example. Tonally some things may be different. The trolls will talk as they do in the book (no word on the wargs). My guess is that the Hobbit trolls will simply be called a different sub-species to the ones in LotR.


At the moment the plan is not to make the movies in 3D, since that would make the movies look too different to the original trilogy. If a way can be found to overcome that obstacle they might go 3D, otherwise not.


In related news, The Lovely Bones now has a finalised release date of December 2009 in the USA and January 2010 in the UK. The movie has been done for a while but post-production has been considerably more demanding than first envisaged and the studio decided to make it more of a big holiday film and wanted it out for Christmas instead.

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