In the same Variety article that reveals that Universal is planning a fourth Bourne movie with Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass, we discover that the studio was more than a little shocked to find out that Guillermo del Toro is looking to be the guy to direct the two Hobbit movies for New Line:

U also was caught off-guard after they aggressively courted Guillermo
Del Toro, the filmmaker behind “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy.” The
studio gave him a first-look deal, picked up a sequel to “Hellboy” with
a budget of more than $80 million, and even bought the rights to his
dream project, the H.P. Lovecraft epic, “At the Mountains of Madness.”

But U brass was stunned to suddenly see Del Toro emerge as the
likely director of the next two “Hobbit” movies for New Line and MGM.
That would lock him down for four straight years in New Zealand.

Langley acknowledges, “We’re in discussions with how to rectify that with Guillermo.”

This whole thing leaves me feeling torn in half. On the one hand, doing the two Hobbit movies will give GdT the muscle and ability to get anything he wants made for the next few years, and it’ll certainly be a terrific payday for a guy who deserves one. On the other hand, these movies will take GdT out of circulation for four to five years, right in the middle of what is starting to look, after Pan’s Labyrinth, like his prime moviemaking years. Guillermo’s a filmmaker who has blossomed into undeniable greatness, and I’d love to see him pursuing his vision rather than working in somebody else’s sandbox. That said, the idea of Guillermo bringing his sensibility to The Hobbit and the bridge film are pretty exciting.

Of course the deal for The Hobbit isn’t sealed yet. GdT has found himself with the classic Alex P Keaton dilemma, too many dates to the dance, and it’ll be interesting – and possibly career defining – to see how he handles it.