Sigh. Yeah, Guillermo did heaps of work on the script and pre-production, but eventually had to back out because the negotiations weren't going anywhere and he had other contracts to fulfil. He was really sorry about it, and I was sad he left - I thought he was a fantastic choice for director, and he's been a real sweetie about communicating with fans, even bouncing ideas off a LOTR message board! Apparently one of his locked-in projects is a Haunted Mansion movie for Disney based off the ride (!).
I'd rather PJ did it than anyone else who springs to mind, but I do wish del Toro had gotten his shot. And I REALLY hope they manage to keep the filming in NZ, 'cause I live here.
The LOTR films and NZ were so closely connected that it'll feel like a real kick in the teeth if they take the production elsewhere.