The first news that I read upon arrival at JFK was Guillermo del Toro‘s decision to abandon The Hobbit…yes! I realize it’s a major heartbreaker for the guy, obviously, but I’ve long regretted his commitment to this project per my staunch belief that nothing of any profound value can result from any kind of Peter Jackson collaboration.

Guillermo is his own man, of course, with his creative hand always decisively in place, but I’m convinced that somehow or some way the hand of Jackson would have made the watching of the two-part Hobbit a laborious, forehead-smacking experience. For people like me, at least. And now that grim prospect has been erased.

I’m sorry for Guillermo and his team — they must be shattered — but I must be honest and confess my gut reaction. Hallelujah!

In a 5.30 statement posted at, Del Toro said he had to leave due to “the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules [which] have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project.”

This statement sidesteps the real reason which, boiled down, is a prolonged delay in locking in a start date due to lack of production funds, chiefly caused by MGM, the co-producer of The Hobbit (along with New Line), being financially strapped and up for sale and all that mishegoss. MGM’s latest James Bond film also fell victim to this situation, forcing director Sam Mendes to walk.

The Wrap‘s Jeff Sneider reported that Del Toro “will continue to co-write the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s classic novel.” Will? The scripts for the two-part film (slated to be released in December 2012 and December 2013) haven’t yet been fully written?

“In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming The Hobbit, I am faced with the hardest decision of my life”, Del Toro said in the statement. “After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures.

“I remain grateful to Peter, Fran and Philippa Boyens, New Line and Warner Brothers and to all my crew in New Zealand. I’ve been privileged to work in one of the greatest countries on earth with some of the best people ever in our craft and my life will be forever changed. The blessings have been plenty. Both as a co-writer and as a director, I wlsh the production nothing but the very best of luck and I will be first in line to see the finished product. I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director.”