Christmas without a Peter Jackson film has become something of a hollow experience. There was, therefore, some good news this week when it was announced that Jackson's company, Wingnut Films, will be producing a film version of The Hobbit, to be released in two parts in 2010 and 2011. However, somewhat inexplicably, it seems that the directorial/screenplay partnership of Jackson, his partner Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, so successful with The Lord of the Rings films, will not be re-united for The Hobbit. Jackson claims that their current schedule would not enable them to meet a 2010/2011 release date, and he suggests that fans would not be prepared to wait any longer. The timing, however, perhaps has more to do with cashflow exigencies at MGM and New Line Cinema than a concern for the preferences of fans.
The current names being touted for the directorial role are Sam Raimi and Guillermo del Toro. Of these two, del Toro would be the better choice. Raimi is best-known for the Spiderman films, which are derivative, predictable, and lacking in technical ingenuity. Del Toro, however, is an imaginative director, capable of serious fantasy such as Pan's Labyrinth, or flamboyantly popular material such as Blade and Hellboy. Raimi would direct something resembling the films of the Harry Potter/Philip Pullman novels; del Toro would give The Hobbit the type of 'edge' which Jackson imparted to The Lord of the Rings.