It's official, Hellboy & Pans Labyrinth's amazing visionary director Guillermo Del Toro is off "The Hobbit" films. These projects were highly anticipated films especially with the disappointment that followed when it was announced that the Lord of the Rings director and screen adapter Peter Jackson would not be allowed to helm the projects. Del Toro was a worthy replacement. Aside from the battle with Jackson to helm the film, the MGM property was mired in a tense battles with everyone that ever had a claim to it after the amazing success of the "Lord of the Rings" films at New Line--a battle that took several years to settle. MGM won it but it seems the studio has lost the war. The project is on hold indefinitely as the studio is led out to auction: that or it is being led out to be shot back behind the barn--which is what should happen.
The question now is not who will replace Del Toro but what will happen to MGM? As not only this project is wrapped up in its fate, many others will follow as well, not to mention a library of hits that serve now only as bitter reminders of a studio that once knew what it was doing. Even at the best scenario, where the studio is bought, management is restructured, and projects are ordered back online, and even with "The Hobbit" leading the charge, it will still take years to work out the deals and line up investors and talent and then finally film the thing.
Del Toro's move is wise and it should become clear to anyone wanting to buy the studio now, what their priority's are: restructure MGM, give it a new image, and let it start with "The Hobbit" and end with a year medium budget, high value and highly targeted niche films to take the place of smaller studios and distributers that have gone bankrupt and are no longer. MGM won't be able to compete again with Paramount, FOX, and WB until they become more financially viable again, so it should stick to what it knows best: good simple film.