Guillermo Del Toro Says 'Hobbit' Departure Was 'Extremely Painful'

'I believe these films will happen,' filmmaker says in message to fans.

In an open letter thanking his supporters (and even "those that never did convert or believed"), Guillermo Del Toro has issued his final farewell to the world of Middle-Earth and further explained his departure from "The Hobbit."

The director announced his withdrawal from the New Zealand-based two-part "Lord of the Rings" prequel early last week, citing the "ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming" as the main reason for his decision. While Del Toro didn't clarify the details surrounding these delays, his latest message, posted as a reply to a comment from "Pasi" on the forum, gives an overview of the emotions driving his departure from the project.

"My commitment to the project demanded enormous sacrifices both in personal and professional terms, the consequences of which will ripple for years. I relocated my entire life and family to New Zealand and first came on board in 2008," he said. "So, while the cited delays, contractual complexities or obstacles cannot be attributed to a single event or entity, you will simply have to believe that they were of sufficient complexity and severity to lead to the current situation. Trust me on this, Pasi — leaving [New Zealand] and the 'Hobbit' crew is extremely painful."

Although Del Toro will no longer direct "The Hobbit," he remains onboard as one of the film's many writers. Additionally, several of Del Toro's designs, story boards and animatics that "accurately [represent] my ideas" will remain in place for the films. Producer Peter Jackson's manager said last week that though Jackson has no intention of taking the director's chair, he remains committed to the franchise.

"I believe these films will happen," Del Toro stated. "Perhaps even sooner than we may anticipate we will look at the finished film and then — I will tear up whenever I recognize a set or a creature or a quirk created under my supervision. Everyone on [the One Ring message] boards will get two movies. Me? I will be watching filmic family albums. Photos of my children from far away."

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