After the news about Guillermo del Toro leaving The Hobbit, the question is: “Who could/should/must/might replace him as director for the two Hobbit films?”
You can read more information about Guillermo del Toro leaving the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) prequels at: Guillermo Del Toro Out of The Hobbit
This list of filmmakers who can possibly replace del Toro in helming the new LOTR films is both a subjective and objective mix. It is not simply categorized according to how their filmographies made them who they are now in the industry. It explores a number of complicated aspects, perspectives, and considerations about how bankable their films have been, how their storytelling skills honed them to become Hollywood icons, how their directing styles placed them on a niche advantage, and how their Hollywood image, power, and accomplishments can be things that the movie studios will take as most beneficial to this kind of production.
In general, those who have the better advantage here are directors who already have something impressive on their reels. Impressive is a vague word. In this particular case, impressive can be better described and addressed by mentioning certain criteria: the bankability of a director’s past films; the experience the director has in directing such a big-budget production; and the awards and accomplishments of the director both in the commercial and artistic aspects of filmmaking. Of course, the more subjective, internal considerations such as Hollywood power, credibility, work ethics, influence, and connections also come into play.
This list is ranked in order: the best pick, then down the line.
Best Pick and Most Practical Option
Peter Jackson is the Lord of the Rings motion picture king. No doubt about it. He made the LOTR trilogy a phenomenal accomplishment that cinema history will forever remember.
Upon confirmation of the project for the two-part Hobbit films working as prequels to LOTR, it’s quite a surprise that Peter Jackson didn’t hop in as director. Yet, with del Toro taking the director’s chair, his past accomplishments, the most famous ones being Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies, made it easy for him to be widely accepted by LOTR fans as The Hobbit helmer. Jackson takes the executive producer position which is a very reasonable move: he knows Middle Earth by heart.
With Jackson assuring fans that they will see the two films after del Toro’s confirmation of leaving the franchise, Jackson is both an ideal and practical choice for many obvious reasons. Beyond the consideration that he recreated Tolkien’s books into moving picture masterpieces, he is also part of the two years worth of The Hobbit pre-production work. He can easily provide a smooth transition and less risks.
There are rumors about creative clashes between Jackson and del Toro, which can possibly be one of the reasons that del Toro left. Yet, this is not something confirmed. So in any case, given the tough Hollywood system, it’s all about delivering the best film. And best is a very relative term. Of course, on top of the movie studios’ list is the profit. On top of the director’s list may be a significant mix of creative fulfillment, awards, and profit.
If Jackson goes back to the director’s chair for these LOTR prequels, he definitely has much pressure on him. He has to make sure he can keep up with the accomplishment of his historical trilogy. As how they say it, “You’re only as good as your last film.”
One thing’s for sure, LOTR fans can easily give their stamp of approval for Jackson.
Hollywood Masters’ Big Comeback
Steven Spielberg has many aces from his diverse credits: E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler’s List, to name a few. According to IMDb, he has more than 40 directing credits, more than 20 writing credits, and more than 100 producing credits. So why a big comeback? He hasn’t done anything that phenomenal compared to his past works… for quite a long time.
George Lucas equals Star Wars. Statistics shows he mostly works as a writer and producer with more than 60 films produced and 70 films to date. He has a conservative number of films directed with a total of 19 so far. If he successfully directs The Hobbit, it shall definitely be one ultimate comeback.
Compared to other film masters in Hollywood, Ang Lee considerably has a few directing credits given his stature. Yet, he doesn’t disappoint when he occasionally surfaces. There’s Brokeback Mountain, Lust, Caution, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Sense and Sensibility. Some might initially judge him due to his Asian roots when considering how he can direct The Hobbit, which is very unfair and kind of racist. Brokeback Mountain isn’t about Taiwan, China, or Hong Kong. Think about it.
Accomplished Directors’ New Genre to Explore
David Fincher has Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to boast for. He has a decent number of films directed. While not as prolific as other directors, most of his films are topnotch. He may not have something as epic as The Hobbit in his filmography yet, but his filmmaking talent and experience make him a very good candidate as the new LOTR prequels’ director.
Christopher Nolan is a very credible name who knows how to make really good dark and atmospheric films. His phenomenal Batman reboot made him a household name. The Hobbit is a little different from what he has already done so far. Yet, he got that following, that credibility, and that storytelling skill that can possibly make the studios interested.
With his successful Star Trek, The Hobbit is one good project to explore for J.J. Abrams.
Tim Burton has become a synonymous term for German Expressionism. He knows it by heart, lives by it, and works with it in all his films. From Edward Scissorhands to Big Fish to Alice in Wonderland, this auteur can make the studios curious on how he can possibly recreate the world of the hobbits. However, it is also possible that his being an auteur can become a stepback for the studios especially since his filmmaking style is not in exactly the same plane as Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.
Big Hollywood Break
After her 2010 Academy Awards feat in The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow becomes a historical name being the first woman to win the directing award at the Oscars. At some point, movie studios might want to use this as a marketing tool and another historical move to give a big Hollywood break to a talented woman director. And given her overall bearing, personality, and work ethics, perhaps she can contribute much in such a big project with a better way of handling possible creative clashes with the LOTR biggies.
Big-Budget Production Veterans
Movie studios may turn their attention to tried-and-tested epic and adventure directors. These experienced, big-budget production veterans have already used hundreds of millions of dollars for their big movies and they already reaped much from them as well.
From the Harry Potter world, David Yates, Mike Newell, and Alfonso Cuaron may be good picks when asked to migrate from Hogwarts to Middle Earth and Shire.
David Yates wraps up the Harry Potter movies (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the last two films Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2). And it seems like he is clearly somebody the studios can bank on for such a big franchise.
Mike Newell of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has also regained a hot name after Prince of Persia.
Alfonso Cuaron from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, and Great Expectations can be another director to consider.
Jon Favreau may possibly go back in time: from his high tech Iron Man to a fantastical Hobbitland.
“Directors’ Filmographies,” Internet Movie Database.