Ever since TheOneRing.net dropped the newsbomb that Guillermo del Toro was departing The Hobbit (citing production delays that have hamstrung the epic two-parter for nearly a year), speculation has raged. With budget problems, studio delays, and a three-year schedule that’s stretched to six, things don’t sound like they’re going to get any easier.
Who’s going to direct this thing now?
The Hobbit camp has not put forth any names for del Toro’s suggested replacement. As fans, clearly that’s our job.
Below the cut, nine ways this train wreck can go.
1. Christopher Nolan
A dark thriller in which Bilbo the hobbit is conscripted into a shadowy gang of inscrutable dwarves, and a sorcerer who seems both fair and foul. In a desperate attempt to free himself, he tumbles down a mountain and will use every ounce of his courage to obtain a golden ring. Is it what he needs to save himself, or a trap from which there’s no escape? And you won’t believe the third-act twist about Bofur and Bombur.
Not that it will matter either way; we won’t hear another word about the movie until it comes out.
2. George Lucas
Bilbo is a lonely young hobbit trapped in his house under the hill in a remote Shire, waiting desperately for adventure to find him. When wise and supernaturally-gifted Gandalf appears, Bilbo isn’t about to miss his chance. Along with the grouchy and in-it-for-the-money Thorin and his hirsute/hard-to-decipher backup dwarves, Bilbo will enter a world full of alien beings he’s never dreamed of, and will have to learn how to harness a magical gift in order to survive a coming war.
Bonus: in 2032, Lucas will release a version in which Smaug shoots first.
3. Kathryn Bigelow
A taut, atmospheric movie about a hobbit in over his head, the flawed but compelling dwarf king that leads his quest, the glory-hungry Bard of Laketown who will come through in a clinch, and the morally-ambiguous wizard who will save them all from danger after twenty minutes of slow-motion tension about it. No need for a second movie, even, since she’d wrap it up in about eighty minutes. Frankly, it sounds good to me.
Potential downside: previous casting of Bill Paxton makes her taste in actors suspect. Just because someone is letting James McAvoy play Professor X doesn’t mean he should be Bilbo, too. Don’t let him into EVERY franchise, for crying out loud.
4. Chris Weitz
After the money New Moon made, this dude could probably leverage his way into the short list. Result: a movie about Gollum sitting in a cave for two hours with a camera circling him as indie rock plays in the background, and then fifteen hours of deleted scenes about Bilbo and the dwarves that will be available on the DVD release. (At least he already has all the CGI wargs ready to go.)
5. Michael Bay
RUN! THE TROLLS ARE RIGHT BEHIND YOU, RUN, DAMMIT! RUN! I SAID RUN!
6. Alex Proyas
A moody character study of a man on a quest to discover the dark beast that’s haunted his dreams, with memorable supporting players, a monster in every shadow, and a few moments of beautiful filmmaking just before Will Smith shows up. No lie, I’d like to see if Alex Proyas could do to the countryside what he did for cities in The Crow and Dark City, but since then he’s put out I, Robot and Knowing, which does not exactly inspire cinematic confidence. (Good news: he’s in pre-production hell on Dracula: Year One, so it’s not like he’s a stranger to the waiting-around rigmarole.)
7. Ridley Scott
His movies are seriously hit-or-miss, but when the script is solid he can certainly produce the rich visuals an epic requires. Sure, it would end up as a movie about the tortured Thorin’s search for redemption, and nearly all the supporting dwarves would kick the bucket, but he can film battle scenes in his sleep, and if there’s anyone who knows how to drive home the quest theme, it’s him. (Bonus: it will keep him from making the Monopoly movie he keeps threatening us all with.)
8. Tim Burton
Bilbo Baggins is the very loneliest hobbit of them all, until some CGI-enhanced dwarves come to take him to a magical land filled with trilling songs and a vaguely-effeminate wizard (Johnny Depp) who doesn’t like messes but, deep down, just wants to be loved by a hobbit he can look on as a son. Helena Bonham-Carter voices Smaug, who spends the second half of the movie delivering a darling series of quips on what it’s like to be stuck in a cave full of gold.
9. Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Stealth “the one from the 70s is perfectly fine” sentiment!
What say you, film fans? Now that del Toro’s out of the running, what monstrous directorial visions do you fear?
Genevieve would actually watch a Kathryn Bigelow Hobbit. Otherwise, she is only interested in a nice widescreen re-release of the Rankin-Bass one, to which she still knows all the lyrics. She writes more about movies at her blog.