Guillermo Del Toro to Direct Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Series

It seems natural for Guillermo del Toro to take over where Peter Jackson left off, and now The Hollywood Reporter says a deal for Del Toro to direct back-to-back installments of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit could happen very soon.

In addition to being one of the most in demand directors alive – not to mention on of the very few who so closely resembles Milton from Office Space – Del Toro is also a wise choice sylistically. His work on the Oscar-nominated Pan’s Labyrinth revealed his storytelling abilities more than previous efforts, but even in Blade 2 you could tell you were watching the work of someone unique.

Since the December resolution of a bitter lawsuit between New Line and Jackson over residual payments for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hobbit has been on a fast track. Jackson will produce, but has no time to direct or write, due to other commitments.

As with the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit films will be shot simultaneously, according to the Reporter. It’s a $300 million safe bet for New Line, who will see the films go into production next year, assuming the writers strike doesn’t drag out another six or eight months, with the films to be released in 2010 and 2011.

And somewhere, there’s a guy dressed up in character already waiting in line.