'The Hobbit' Begins Filming in New Zealand: Peter Jackson Reveals First Photos!

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Mar. 21 2011, Published 3:57 p.m. ET

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After some setbacks getting started, director Peter Jackson has began filming his highly-anticipated Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, in New Zealand — and there are photos to prove it!

Production was delayed due to Peter's health, as he was treated for a perforated ulcer, but filming is now moving forward for both of the Lord of the Rings prequels in New Zealand.

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A press from Warner Bros. was released on Peter's Facebook page stating:

"Production has commenced in Wellington, New Zealand, on “The Hobbit,” filmmaker Peter Jackson’s two film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s widely read masterpiece. The Hobbit is set in Middle-earth 60 years before Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

"The two films, with screenplays by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson, will be shot consecutively in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Filming will take place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand."

For those who are not familiar with the book, The Hobbit follows "the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug.  Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakensheild.  Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers."

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British actor Martin Freeman will take on the title role as Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen returns in the role of Gandalf the Grey.

According the the release, the Dwarves are played by Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Ken Stott (Balin), Graham McTavish (Dwalin), William Kircher (Bifur) James Nesbitt (Bofur), Stephen Hunter (Bombur), Rob Kazinsky (Fili), Aidan Turner (Kili), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), John Callen (Oin), Jed Brophy (Nori), Mark Hadlow (Dori) and Adam Brown (Ori).

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Returning to their roles from The Lord of the Rings trilogy are Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Andy Serkis as Gollum and Elijah Wood as Frodo. Jeffrey Thomas and Mike Mizrahi also join the cast as Dwarf Kings Thror and Thrain, respectively. Further casting announcements are expected

According to Deadline London, the cast had its first script read-through at Jackson’s Stone Studios on Thursday, sitting in a semi-circle inside the set of Bilbo Baggins’ house.

The new Tolkien epics are rumored to be titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and are slated for release in late 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Are you excited? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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