Guillermo del Toro is in official talks to direct the two-part film adaptation of Tolkien's "The Hobbit." The director, whose works include the critically-acclaimed Pan's Labyrinth and the Hellboy films (among others), may co-write and direct while Peter Jackson looks on as an executive producer. The Hollywood Reporter says each movie is predicted to have a $150 million budget, and the two are to be shot back-to-back beginning in 2009. This puts the release date of the first film at 2010 and the second at 2011.
Personally, I think this is a great choice for a director. Anyone who has seen Pan's Labyrinth knows that del Toro can handle this kind of fantasy with the best of them. We have to remember that Peter Jackson was known for his horror films before he went on to direct one of the greatest (and most profitable) trilogies of all time, and he didn't have nearly the experience that del Toro does. We'll see how this actually ends up, but for now - it's fun to speculate.