Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro will spend four years in New Zealand making two films based on The Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit, it was confirmed today.
The official announcement was made in Hollywood by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson - who will co-produce The Hobbit - fellow producer Fran Walsh, and executives from New Line Cinema and MGM.
Jackson and Walsh said del Toro was "a genuine storyteller" of outstanding ability.
"A true original, Guillermo is a cinematic magician who has never lost his child-like sense of wonder. He understands that the fantastic must be grounded in the real and that all stories are only ever a reflection of ourselves," say Jackson and Walsh.
"We have long admired Guillermo's work and cannot think of a more inspired filmmaker to take the journey back to Middle-earth. We are delighted The Hobbit is in such trustworthy hands."
Del Toro said he considered himself "blessed" to become part of the filmmaking community in New Zealand.
The Mexican-born filmmaker will base himself in New Zealand for four years to work with Wingnut Films and Weta production teams.
The two films will be shot back to back.
Del Toro's films include The Devil's Backbone, Blade II, and the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth. His latest movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is due for release in July.
- The Dominion Post