Ringmaster Peter Jackson Ready to Rescue “The Hobbit”

Acclaimed Mexican director Guillermo del Toro has joined the rest of the world in being fed up with the delays that have plagued his two-part  "Lord of the Rings" prequel, and his exit could clear the way for Peter Jackson to retake the helm.

In a joint announcement with executive producer Jackson released on The One Ring, del Toro bowed out as graciously as possible from a project that has been troubled for some time now.

“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 del Toro. “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 wish 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”.

Jackson, for his part, was equally gracious in bidding del Toro adieu.

“We feel very sad to see Guillermo leave the Hobbit, but he has kept us fully in the loop and we understand how the protracted development time on these two films, due to reasons beyond anyone’s control – has compromised his commitment to other long term projects”, says Executive Producer Peter Jackson. “The bottom line is that Guillermo just didn’t feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years. Guillermo is one of the most remarkable creative spirits I’ve ever encountered and it has been a complete joy working with him. Guillermo’s strong vision is engrained into the scripts and designs of these two films, which are extremely fortunate to be blessed with his creative DNA”.

The day after news of del Toro's departure, Jackson acknowledged that he would step into the director's chair, should it come to that.

"If that's what I have to do to protect Warner Bros' investment, then obviously that's one angle which I'll explore," he told Stuff.

Which is all well and good, except he's up to his ears in his "Tintin" adaptations, as The Playlist Notes.

We'll put the over/under on the first "Hobbit" hitting the big screen in 2015.

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