Deleece Cook sends along an interview transcript from Newstalk Radio discussing the departure of Guillermo del Toro. The interview features…well…me! Take a listen or a read.

Perma-Listen link here.

Director Guillermo Del Toro has quit as director of The Hobbit movies. The Mexican filmmaker has been working with Sir Peter Jackson to bring the two Lord of the Rings Prequels to the screen. (duration: 10:57):

Jim Mora “After living 2 years breathing designing a world as rich as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I must with great regret take leave from helming these wonderful pictures”.

And with that, Director Guillermo del Toro has quit as Director of The Hobbit movies. The Mexican Film Maker has been working with Sir Peter Jackson to bring the 2 Lord of the Rings prequels to the screen. But indefinite delays forced on the films by the financial troubles at MGM, which holds part of the rights, and also del Toro’s unwillingness to continue delaying his other projects, these factors have contributed to the split here.

The story broke on, the website for JRR Tolkien fans. Michael Regina is the editor and chief. It was Michael who took the phone call from Sir Peter today with the news – he’s on the line with us now from Canada. Michael thank-you for joining us…

Michael Regina (Xoanon): Hi Jim Thanks, it’s my pleasure.

Jim Mora: Well, were you shocked when you got the call from New Zealand today or did you have an inkling?

Michael Regina (Xoanon): I had a slight inkling once MGM had announced a 5th extension on the financial situation, a 5th extension granted to them by their shareholders, or their banks, or however that works down in Hollywood, and I had a slight inkling that delays would be inevitable – and Guillermo on such a tight schedule would most likely have to move on.

We had heard Ian McKellen, Sir Ian McKellen, and Andy Serkis mentioned that they would start filming in June that got pushed to August and then got pushed to the Fall, so we knew that there were delays happening and it was a surprise, however the writing was on the wall so to speak.

Jim Mora: And yet, these would be tremendously prestigious projects for him, or the project overall, why do you think he gave up Michael, just because of the delays?

Michael Regina (Xoanon): I really do think it was down to ‘doing nothing’ or actually spending time doing what Guillermo loves to do best which is ‘to make films’ – and even though he had invested 2 years , he had moved his entire family down to Wellington, he had done a large amount of pre production work – which is designing effects and costumes and all these different things – I think it all came down to “well, do I sit here for another six months to a year doing nothing, or do I continue working on some other films, other projects I have in the pipeline”. And I think ultimately I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision, but I think ultimately Guillermo decided to move on and work on some other projects that he’s rumoured to be working on next.

Jim Mora: Ok, so what are your people saying on What’s the reaction?

Michael Regina (Xoanon): Well, the reaction mostly is of sadness, there’s are people who are worried, their fears are renewed again in terms of will we ever see this project happen, or will there will be a Director that people are not as comfortable with, in terms of creativity and past performance being so amazing when it comes to someone like Guillermo del Toro. However there is a slight inkling of hope. People are somewhat excited that Peter Jackson is now maybe in the running again to be Direct these films. I mean there hasn’t been news as to what Peter has been working on next after The Lovely Bones. So you know there could be some positive news there in terms there of perhaps Peter taking over the Director’s chair again.

Jim Mora: I don’t want to pry privileged information out of you, but do you think that’s a reasonable possibility?

Michael Regina (Xoanon): I’m not too sure – and I didn’t actually take a call from Sir Peter Jackson himself, it was his assistant who usually calls me and emails me this type of news. But the last time I actually spoke with Peter himself, we had lunch and he had mentioned it. He had asked me who I liked out there in terms of Directors. And he mentioned a few names, I’m not going to mention any names, but I’m sure he’s definitely looking for another Director and probably someone on his very, very short list that he didn’t initially go with.

Jim Mora: Alright. You’ve also spoken to Guillermo del Toro yourself, although you had an inkling and you understand the delays and his need to be working – Are you surprised in the sense that he did seem very excited about the project, and he committed so much time, did he really want to do it?

Michael Regina (Xoanon): Oh absolutely! Absolutely. Whenever I did speak to him, and I haven’t spoken to him since this news came out, but whenever I did speak to him he was very excited about getting this news came out, and very, very keen to get his teeth into filming certain key scenes, and was very, very interested in going to New Zealand and working there. So I’m sure at this point it’s disappointing that he would have to leave this. If he wasn’t interested initially he would have never signed on and anyone who knows Guillermo, or at least know his work, know that he works on things that he loves to do, and he would never do something that he doesn’t have a very vested interest in dealing with. So I’m sure he was quite disappointed to have to come to this decision.

Jim Mora: Michael Regina is with us, the Editor in Chief of the Why isn’t the project, which to the layperson would be a money maker ‘No Problem’ – Why isn’t it ‘Green lit’?

Michael Regina (Xoanon): Well the main sticking point of course is that MGM is now in foreclosure or in bankruptcy protection. So that pieces of MGM are either going to be up for auction, or they were looking for another studio or another company to buy them out whole. So of course MGM holds the rights to the films – part of the rights of the films such as The Hobbit, but they also own the right to certain things like the James Bond franchise and The Pink Panther franchise. So their investors are looking to either have someone buy the entire studio and their entire slate of films and the logo and all that kind of stuff, or they’re going to break it up piecemeal and sell those things individually. Now the problem with Warner Bros who owns the owns the larger percentage of the rights, they have to wait until this sort of legalese is settled before they can decide to Greenlight these films because they have to work with these new partners that will eventually come in. So of course there’s all sorts of discussions going on as to who they would be working with and weather it would be a right fit. So I’m sure Warner Bros is being very cautious before Green-lighting such a large project before all the legal rights have been settled.

Jim Mora: Do you think Peter Jackson did take over the helm, that those issues might be expedited Michael?

Michael Regina (Xoanon): More than likely. I think Peter brings, of course, his entire history of working with Lord of the Rings franchise, it’s basically his franchise that he’s built up, so having him reattach himself instead of just the Producer to be Directing these films might expedite the process. However, some people say The Hobbit is just a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to the entire MGM situation, and Warners is still trying to make sure that they are confident before they commit any kinds of to Producing these films. Because they have to put up a large percentage of cash before these films can even be officially worked on. Once they Greenlight a film, studios are set up and offices are built, and all kinds of things get rolling, so a lot of money is put up upfront, so I’m sure they want to be careful before they decide to go ahead with it.

Jim Mora: How far along have you been informed Michael, is the project in terms of sets and wardrobes, design work? Quite a lot has been done, we understand…

Michael Regina (Xoanon): I’m fairly certain the project is about as far along as it can go before that very instrumental important part of Green-lighting the film where they could set up production offices and begin casting. I’m sure there has been some casting calls and that kind of stuff done, and knowing the way Guillermo works, he likes to set up a journal with lots of copious notes and drawings and paintings and all types of things. And I’m sure he had several of these journals created with design notes and elements, and art and costumes designs all set up. I’m not too sure how far costume and creation, or set design or building has come along. They were working on the Hobbiton set for a while and building that up and getting it prepared for the shoot. I’m not sure if that’s been put on hold or not. So it’s been ramping up with the anticipation that the Greenlight would be happening very, very shortly. That Greenlight doesn’t look to be happening soon and of course that’s what prompted Guillermo to leave the project.

Jim Mora: At least one fan of says ‘this is the beginning of the end for the Hobbit’. You would not be that pessimistic obviously though?

Michael Regina (Xoanon): (laughs) No, definitely not. There’s way too much money to be made here in terms of Warner Bros reaping the rewards of creating a film like this, and there’s a huge fan base out there. And I think its definitely going to be happening one way or another and it’s just a matter of time.

Jim Mora: Michael, thank you for your time and for updating us on that.

Transcript – by Deleece Cook for TORN