Guillermo del Toro in line for The Hobbit

Spider-man and Evil Dead director Sam Raimi is expected to helm the upcoming Peter Jackson-produced Hobbit films, after making his return to horror with Drag Me to Hell (more on that later). But what if Raimi and New Line can’t ink a deal? Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro is said to be in consideration for the upcoming JRR Tolkien adaptation and sequel.

“I’ve heard some rumblings, but nothing official. I don’t want to think about it because it’s such an eventuality,” Guillermo del Toro told EW. “It’s the only Tolkien book I read. I tried my best to read the Lord of the Rings, the trilogy. I could not. I could not. They were very dense. And then one day, I bought The Hobbit. I read it and I loved it. So it would be a privilege. But listen, I wish I knew.”

Anyone who has seen del Toro’s Labyrinth has an idea of what Guillermo is capable of.  Apparently Guillermo met with Jackson last year, and has been dying to work with the filmmaker and his New Zealand-based WETA workshop.

“I met Peter and Fran when we were trying to do Halo. I think what they’re doing in New Zealand is amazing. What they’re doing, in terms of the way they approach filmmaking – the way I see it is, it’s Hollywood the way God intended it. Because it’s a filmmaker’s dream and a filmmaker’s facility. So it’s heaven. The question is: Will I go to heaven? I have no idea.”

Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron is also a name being thrown around Hollywood. But as of right now no one is officially signed on to the films, which will be shot back to back. The first film will be an adaptation of The Hobbit, while the second film will serve as a prequel which bridges the gap between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, using Tolkien’s lengthy appendices as source material.

Raimi’s announcement might seem like very odd timing, but truth is that the directing gig will be in post production before pre-production on The Hobbit films begins. Jackson and his life/creative partner Fran Walsh have yet to start on the screenplays (and won’t officially be able to until the strike ends), but New Line is hoping to enter into pre-production by 2009 for a 2010 and 2011 release. Jackson, who is currently shooting The Lovely Bones, will be unavailable until February 2008.

Drag Me to Hell is a supernatural thriller he wrote with his brother Ivan, about an unwitting recipient of a supernatural curse. Producer Rob Tapert describes the movie as “a wild ride with all the chills and spills that ‘Evil Dead’ delivered, without relying on the excessive violence of that film.”

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