It’s official: Guillermo del Toro, director of the Oscar-winning, Spanish-language feature Pan’s Labyrinth, has signed on to direct two movies based on the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien book.
For a while it looked as though the films weren’t going to be made. In February, the Tolkien family sued New Line Cinema, claiming that the company had not paid them their percentage of the mammoth grosses made by Peter Jackson’s movie versions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The lawsuit has since been settled, and it looks like the project is back on track.
Reports are conflicting as to the plotline of The Hobbit films. Some say that the second of the films will span the 60 years between the end of the book and the beginning of the first book in LOTR trilogy, while others report both movies will cover only the subject matter of the single book after which they are named.
With Jackson on as an executive producer, del Toro will use the same stages and visual effects facilities as the previously popular LOTR films, so audiences can hope that the films will satisfy their Middle Earth withdrawals even without the director that brought the imaginary world to the big screen in the first place. Filming, scheduled to last four years, will begin in New Zealand sometime next year.
The Hobbit is set to hit theaters in 2011, with the sequel following in 2012—a year behind what was previously quoted. But in the movie business, that’s just par for the course.