Calling it "the hardest decision" he has ever had to make - GDT is leaving THE HOBBIT production after two years in pre-production. He will continue polishing the scripts over the next couple of months, but after that he is moving on.
The reason is clear - MGM's continued financial crisis was pushing the start date farther and farther back, and Guillermo's commitment to other long term projects was making it difficult to stick around. A three year commitment was turning into six.
One can only imagine the frustration of waiting and waiting and waiting for a green light to come, with no end in sight. According to the LA Times, everything was ready to go. Guillermo said in a press conference for SPLICE that "we have designed all the creatures, the sets, the wardrobe, animatics and planned action sequences, and we are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered. We don't know anything until the MGM situation is resolved."
Apparently, GDT will help with the scripts for the next several months, and it is on to the next project...which Guillermo says is "TBD soon!".
One might expect the backlash from Tolkien fans to be one of betrayal - but I don't get that sense at all. Loyal fans over at TORN are sad, but understanding of the situation Guillermo was in - he had given so much to them by joining in on their message boards and keeping an active dialogue going - that he was embraced. Any anger or resentment has been directed primarily at MGM and show business in general.
This is as an amicable break-up I've seen for such a high profile picture. The fans are in Guillermo's corner, Jackson has praised him and been thankful for his contribution, and GDT had given so much - moving his family to New Zealand for multiple years, working two years on pre-production,etc.
GDT fans have echoed the same sentiment as the Tolkien fans out there - sadness and they feel for Guillermo, but at the same time they have a reason to be optimistic. GDT fans have had mixed feelings about THE HOBBIT - excited to see Guillermo part of such an ambitious project, but quietly lamenting the fact that it would take up so many years of his time.
For a website like DelToroFilms.com, news and rumors and can start cranking again as we wait to see what will happen next. Will it be a Universal project (FRANKENSTEIN, DROOD, SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5)? Will it be DISNEY? Could it be one of Guillermo's small independent projects (SATURN AND THE END OF DAYS)? Be patient, friends.
It is time to get excited again.