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Dave McNary of Variety reports:
In a major step forward on “The Hobbit,” Guillermo del Toro has signed on to direct the New Line-MGM tentpole and its sequel.
The widely expected announcement — which had been rumored for several weeks — came Thursday afternoon jointly from exec producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, New Line president Toby Emmerich, and Mary Parent, newly named chief of MGM’s Worldwide Motion Picture Group.
Del Toro’s moving to New Zealand for the next four years to work with Jackson and his Wingnut and Weta production teams.
He’ll direct the two films back to back, with the sequel dealing with the 60-year period between “The Hobbit” and “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
New Line is overseeing development and will manage production. Both pics are being co-produced and co-financed by New Line Cinema and MGM, with Warner Bros. distributing domestically and MGM handling international.