The long and twisty off-screen journey of “The Hobbit” looks like it’s finally coming to an end: The much-anticipated production finally has a start date.
“The Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson has finalized a deal to direct the two-film prequel in addition to co-writing the script and producing. Filming is scheduled to begin in New Zealand in February, The Wrap reports.
The green light for “The Hobbit” ends a years-long preproduction saga involving financing (Warner Bros. and the financially shaky MGM are co-producing it), a director — Guillermo del Toro initially signed on, then dropped out, and Jackson wavered for some time before agreeing to helm the project — and other issues. In fact, not all those issues are yet resolved: Negotiations over whether “The Hobbit” will use Screen Actors Guild members are ongoing.
]]>Sir Ian McKellen, who will reprise his “LOTR” role as Gandalf — are already signed. The Wrap says Martin Freeman, who starred in the British version of “The Office,” is a contender for the lead role of Bilbo Baggins.
The first “Hobbit” film is tentatively scheduled for release in December 2012.
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