Though things are moving fast now on the Hobbit trilogy, the project spent years languishing in development hell. Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) was originally attached to direct, but allegedly bailed after getting frustrated by all the delays. But is there more to the story?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, yes, as they've heard from an anonymous insider that there was another reason Del Toro decided to bow out just before Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) made his triumphant return.
The reason? Essentially, Del Toro didn't want to constantly be compared to Jackson's previous work in the franchise.
Per the tipster:
"Do I think Peter wanted to take over The Hobbit? No. But he was going to be involved one way or the other, and as an artist, Guillermo wanted to make his version of the movie. I think he wondered: 'How much of an imprint can I put on this? ... Do I want to spend years of my life being caretaker of someone else's franchise?'"
It's a good point, and Del Toro would've definitely brought his unique style to Middle-earth—which could've proved grating for hardcore fans of the original Rings trilogy.
Of course, in public, Del Toro and Jackson have been nothing but amicable about the split, but you have to wonder how much this alleged issue played into the situation. Jackson was always the first choice to direct, but Del Toro was hired because he held out for so long before eventually agreeing to a deal.
For continuity's sake, Jackson is probably the right man for the job, but we'll always wonder what could've been if Del Toro had held onto the reins.