Well, the Hobbit shoe has finally dropped, and Guillermo del Toro has committed to direct the movie for New Line Cinema. There is rejoicing throughout the land, I suspect. If it wasn't going to be Peter Jackson (who is exec producing with Fran Walsh), Pan's Labyrinth helmer Del Toro is just about a perfect match for this J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy. It will be cool.
UPDATE: Salon's Andrew O'Hehir thinks Del Toro is a terrible idea. I would argue that it all depends on how willing Del Toro is to stay close to the world created by Jackson. It would be foolish to go too far astray, either from the original book (the success if the Jackson/Walsh trilogy derives from their faithfulness to Tolkien) or the blockbuster trilogy. O'Hehir makes some good points about the larger business picture here (Jackson is a tycoon now in the George Lucas mold, basically). But I would argue that Del Toro is grabbing an opportunity to do a movie that he can score with and that he and Jackson are a good aesthetic fit. This is not your standard cynical sequel. Del Toro's not going to do a hack job here, and Jackson won't let him. They'll have control over it, not some studio. They are both artists first, businessmen second. Does that sound naive? Well, ok, it won't do Del Toro any harm over the long haul to bank some b.o. hits so he can do the other stuff that may not be so overtly commercial.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]