Production has started in Wellington, New Zealand, on The Hobbit, director Peter Jackson’s two $500 million film version 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 team developed for the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that closed with the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Both films, with screenplays by Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson, will be shot in digital 3D using the Epic camera and latest stereo technology. Filming will go on at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.
The Hobbit centers on 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.
Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will produce The Hobbit, alongside Carolynne Cunningham. Executive producers are Ken Kamins and Zane Weiner, with Philippa Boyens as co-producer. The Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, also produced by Jackson and Walsh, grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box office. In 2003, The Return of the King seized the Academy Awards, winning all of the 11 categories in which it was nominated, including the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film.
Joining Baggins on the mission are the Dwarves, 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).
Warner Bros. on last Monday confirmed that Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Andy Serkis (Gollum) and Elijah Wood (Frodo) will reprise their roles from Lord of the Rings. N.Z. actors Jeffrey Thomas and Mike Mizrahi also join the cast as Dwarf Kings Thror and Thrain, respectively.
The Hobbit features are co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production. Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories with all international television licensing being helmed by MGM.
The two films are planned for release in late 2012 and 2013, in that order.
Check out two new photos via Peter Jackson’s Facebook page.