Harry Potter director to take over The Hobbit?

David Yates, the man who has directed the last four Harry Potter films—including the yet-to-be-released two-part adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—has reportedly been offered the chance to direct The Hobbit.

According to Slashfilm, Yates' name has been mentioned on industry insider tracking boards as the top choice to take the reins from Guillermo del Toro, who stepped away from the production last month but will continue to work as a co-writer with producers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boyens.

Yates began his tenure on the Potter series with movie number five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and has just wrapped principal photography on Deathly Hallows. As CHUD points out, however, Yates still has to oversee post-production on both parts of the final story. The first part of Deathly Hallows comes out this November, while the second one won't surface until July 2011, meaning that Yates wouldn't be able to start work on The Hobbit until perhaps sometime next spring.

Given that the studio that owns the rights to The Hobbit, MGM, is by all accounts going into its death throes, it may not be until next year anyway that the legal situation is sorted out and The Hobbit is able to get back on its feet and into production. The delay in production due to MGM's troubles is what caused del Toro to walk in the first place.

What's the line on Yates? As the Potter movies prove, he can certainly handle big-budget tentpole pictures and large-scale fantasy visuals, not to mention the expectations of a franchise with a massive following. Both his Potter entries so far, Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, have received generally positive reviews, with the former earning 77 percent positive marks and the latter getting 83 percent favorable reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. Critics and even some fans, however, have accused him of being bland and meandering and having no discernible style.

What do you think? Is Yates the man to take over The Hobbit?

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