Sound Off: Who Should Direct The Hobbit? - Guillermo vs Raimi
by Alex Billington
December 21, 2007
Over this last week an enormous amount of news and rumors surrounding The Hobbit have arisen. On Tuesday, Peter Jackson announced that all legal issues between him and New Line had been resolved and that he would only produce the films. On Thursday, speculation began as to who could and who is in the running to direct The Hobbit, and two names appeared. Sam Raimi, of Spider-Man and Evil Dead fame, seems to be clearing up his schedule. And Guillermo del Toro, of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy fame, has expressed an interest in directing as well. Until an official announcement is made, let's consider the options and discuss which would be a better choice.
In our article about Sam Raimi's upcoming schedule (which doesn't include Spider-Man 4), it was explicitly mentioned by Variety, an official news outlet, that it's likely Sam Raimi is directing The Hobbit. While this isn't confirmed, Raimi has previously mentioned that he'd be interested in directing it as long as Jackson had also said that he would NOT be interested in directing - as Raimi wouldn't want to tread on Jackson's territory.
As for Guillermo del Toro, SlashFilm ran a piece yesterday with some recent quotes from Guillermo, where it was mentioned that he had "heard some rumblings, but nothing official." So now Guillermo is in the running, too. As this project moves on, the choice of the director will probably be the biggest decision anyone at New Line will ever make. And with two of the world's greatest directors in the running, it's a very tough decision to make. The problem is I don't know who I would side with, because of all directors out there, Raimi and del Toro are probably my two personal favorite directors. This is like choosing with of my two kids I would have to kill to stay alive myself.
I'm going to kick this off by defending Sam Raimi. A number of comments on yesterday's article were condemning Raimi primarily because of Spider-Man 3, a movie that by now most people have recognized as being pretty bad. I'm not trying to defend a movie that I also think wasn't great, but I am going to defend Sam Raimi, who is still one of the greatest directors out there despite Spider-Man 3. First off, the person who created Spider-Man 2, no matter how much they screw up elsewhere, cannot be regarded as an all-around bad director at least because they created what is (arguably) the best superhero movie ever made.
Back when Spider-Man 3 was coming out, I attended a press conference with Sam Raimi. I listened to Raimi speak and answer questions for 20 minutes and by the end I had realized that Spider-Man 3 wasn't his fault. It was partially Avi Arad and partially the other outside pressures that forced him to include Venom. Sure, it was Raimi who ended up making the movie, but after hearing the things he had to say, there is no way he could've made this bad of a movie if he would've done the exact story he wanted. Avi Arad and the producers came in and forced him to include Venom and forced a re-write on the script to turn it into a pile of crap.
Lastly, Raimi is the least "Hollywood-ized" director out of anyone I've met. He's still so down-to-earth and still a geek himself. He would rather chat with you about movies and Spider-Man at the end of a press conference than be whisked away. He has no "spoiler" filter, he just loves talking about things like an excited geek. The more I listened to him and the more I looked back at Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, Darkman, Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 2, the more I realized Raimi is still an incredible director who was screwed over with Spider-Man 3. In my mind, he is and always will be a phenomenal director and is still the perfect choice for The Hobbit.
With Guillermo del Toro, I probably love him almost as much as Raimi. Hellboy is my absolute favorite comic book movie and Pan's Labyrinth is a incredible film, and I just love his filmmaking style and fanboy nature as well. However, I almost feel as if he has too dark of a style for it to work with The Hobbit. But at the same time, if he took on the project, he would be as perfect of a choice as Sam Raimi. I can't decide, so it's up to you.
Who do you think is the best director for The Hobbit? Sam Raimi or Guillermo del Toro?