NEW YORK (CBS/AP) The uncertain financial future of Metro Goldwyn Mayer has forced Guillermo del Toro to quit as director of the two-part planned film version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."
"In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming "The Hobbit," I am faced with the hardest decision of my life," said del Toro on the "Lord of the Rings" fansite, TheOneRing.net.
"After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien's Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures."
Del Toro will still continue to write the screenplays, alongside Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh.
Most famous for its lion logo and James Bond franchise, MGM has struggled to make a substantial profit these past few years. The debt-ridden studio giant was put up for sale last November and new ownership still remains uncertain.
The first "Hobbit" film is still slated for a December 2012 release.