Guillermo del Toro leaves The Hobbit film adaptation

After two years in development on The Hobbit, HeatVision reports that director Guillermo del Toro has announced that he’s leaving the long-delayed J.R.R. Tolkien 2-film adaptation.

“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 wrote on the Lord of the Rings fansite “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.”

He went on to say that he would continue to co-write the movies’ scripts with producers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boyens. The director had moved his wife and children to New Zealand for The Hobbit project.

The uncertain future of MGM had placed the 2-movie project in limbo. Producers had hoped to be in production this summer but no greenlight was on the horizon. However according to the report, insiders at New Line say the sale of MGM is not holding up production and the first film will meet its target release date of December 2012.

Adding to the pressure, Guillermo del Toro also has a laundry list of development projects set up at Universal Pictures which will keep him busy for the next 10 years.

Peter Jackson said “We understand how the protracted development time on these two films, due to reasons beyond anyone’s control – has compromised his commitment to other long term projects. The bottom line is that Guillermo just didn’t feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years.”

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