This past weekend, news broke that Guillermo del Toro, the visionary mastermind behind 'Pan's Labyrinth' and the 'Hellboy' series, had backed out of directing 'The Hobbit,' citing production delays.

Fans have been anxiously awaiting a faithful adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to his epic 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy for years. While del Toro will remain onboard -- as a co-screenwriter -- the search for a new director must be undertaken by the film's producer, Peter Jackson.

Del Toro seemed to be a perfect fit; he matches Jackson's enthusiasm for the fantastic and, like the New Zealand-born director, he brings a unique creative flair to each of his projects. As Jackson has no plans to direct it himself, finding a director with the same kind of heart -- and the willingness to live in Middle Earth for a three year production term -- will be a tough challenge. Moviefone has put together a list of directors we think are up to the task.
categories Features