Guillermo del Toro has officially signed to direct The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Producers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, New Line president Toby Emmerich and MGM Worldwide topper Mary Parent told Variety that Del Toro will be moving to New Zealand for the next four years to work with Jackson’s Wingnut and Weta production.
Not only will Del Toro (Hellboy 2, Pan’s Labyrinth) direct The Hobbit, he has also signed to tackle the film’s sequel (which deals with the 60-year period) between the first book and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The movie’s script is likely to be written by Jackson, Walsh, Philippa Boyens in collaboration with Del Toro. The plot focuses on the adventures of Bilbo Baggins who initially takes the infamous Ring from Gollum. The ballpark release dates for the films are estimated as late as 2011 and 2012.
The Hobbit and its sequel will be co-produced and co-financed by New Line Cinema and MGM, with Warner Bros. distributing domestically and MGM handling international. Del Toro is still doing post-production work on Hellboy 2, which comes out in July. His previous movie Pan’s Labyrinth took home three Oscars in 2006 and set a record as the highest grossing Spanish-language movie in the U.S.