Peter Jackson now says he MIGHT direct The Hobbit

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

With director Guillermo del Toro now having left The Hobbit, all eyes have turned naturally to The Lord of the Rings director (and Hobbit co-producer and co-screenwriter) Peter Jackson to get behind the camera again. But Jackson's manager, Ken Kamins, dismissed that possibility, telling that it's "not something he can consider at this time as he has other commitments to other projects," among them his collaboration with Steven Spielberg on the two-part adaptation of The Adventures of Tintin.

Jackson, however, has not ruled out directing, saying to New Zealand's Dominion Post, "If that's what I have to do to protect Warner Bros' investment, then obviously that's one angle which I'll explore."

The financial woes of MGM Studios, which co-owns the rights to The Hobbit with Warner Brothers Pictures, are apparently what led del Toro to bow out of directing after two years of developing it as two films and co-writing the scripts with Jackson and co-producers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

MGM was put up for sale late last year. The legendary studio has several lucrative franchises in its portfolio—including the James Bond series and The Hobbit—but also a massive $3.7 billion debt. As a result, no one's been rushing to snatch the studio up.

Although the company has made scheduled payments on The Hobbit and preproduction has been ongoing, the possibility of a sale or even bankruptcy makes going forward with shooting the movies a dicey proposition. A source told that MGM's problems have no impact on the movie and that it has always been slated to start filming at the end of 2010, but if that's the case, why would del Toro leave?

With two years of his life already devoted to the project and another two to three years needed, plus other commitments piling up (including adaptations of Frankenstein and H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness), it seems del Toro decided he could not wait around any longer. There's also been speculation that he's not keen on the rumored possibility of shooting The Hobbit in 3-D. He revealed in a conference call with reporters last week that "3-D has been discussed literally once ... is there a chance it will become 3-D in the future? Maybe. Right now, it's not being planned as such."

So with del Toro gone, should Jackson just pick up the reins? Could someone else do it? Or do you think the whole project should be shelved, at least until the studio situation is sorted out?