Green light for 'The Hobbit' and Peter Jackson
18 Oct 2010
Hobbit fans are celebrating as the journey back to JRR Tolkien’s mythical Middle-earth prepares to relaunch.
After months of speculation and a string of high profile setbacks, Hollywood film moguls have shone the much-anticipated green light on The Hobbit and New Zealand’s Peter Jackson, who is set to direct the two-part movie story.
The Hobbit - based on JRR Tolkien’s novel - is scheduled to start filming in February 2011, and the installments are expected to hit cinemas in December 2012, and 2013.
While it is known that the NZ$661 million Lord of the Rings prequel will be shot in 3D, the location of filming is yet to be named.
According to sources at Jackson’s Wingnut Films, the location announcement is "probably a week or two away".
Jackson’s New Zealand-based Weta Studios - the award-winning special effects facility that he co-founded with fellow Kiwi Oscar winner Richard Taylor - is expected to work on the films no matter what location is chosen.
Peter Jackson has co-written The Hobbit screenplays with his partner Fran Walsh, New Zealander Phillipa Boyens, and Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, who was originally set to direct the movies.
"Exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth goes way beyond a normal film-making experience," Jackson said.
"It’s an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama. We’re looking forward to re-entering this wondrous world with Gandalf and Bilbo - and our friends at New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers and MGM."
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Fans have been awaiting this announcement since Jackson made his first foray into Middle-earth with the Lord of the Rings trilogy - a ground-breaking cinematic triumph that gained a huge international cult following, and swept the 2003 Oscars with the final installment of Return of the King.
The New Zealand director was largely unknown internationally when New Line Cinema took the risk to finance three films based on the Tolkien classic.
But this time, Jackson will return to the fabled setting as an accomplished and much sought-after director, renowned for his groundbreaking visual effects and incomparable story-telling.
The Hobbit is being co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production, Warner Bros Pictures handling domestic distribution and MGM distributing internationally.
Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham will produce the films, with Phillipa Boyens as co-producer, and Ken Kamins as executive producer.
Background: Hobbiton - Matamata, New Zealand
Meanwhile, according to the Waikato Times newspaper, locals in the little Waikato town of Matamata are quietly confident that they’re still the home of Hobbiton.
The Hobbiton film set - built for the original Lord of the Rings trilogy and now a major New Zealand tourist destination - has been undergoing significant development in the lead-up to the prequels.
Russell Alexander, who manages tours around Hobbiton and whose father Ian Alexander owns the land the film set is on, said he was rapt for Sir Peter Jackson that the films were finally going ahead.
"It's very exciting, it's great news."
Matamata-Piako Mayor Hugh Vercoe said an enormous amount of work had been done at Hobbiton and it looked fantastic.
"The other thing that has kept us reasonably confident that it will be shot here is that a lot of people who have watched those movies are very passionate about authenticity and if you made the Hobbit movies anywhere else than the original Hobbiton, I believe it would be different."
Finding the real Middle-earth
Hobbit fans eye up Middle-earth
Set-jetting around New Zealand
These topics may also be of interest to you