For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings series (both the books and the films), a long wait is over. The Hobbit, prequel to the trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King) has finally been given the go-ahead by the Tolkien family, who had delayed the film rights due to legal disputes. Those differences have been settled and filming is set to begin in the near future.
Peter Jackson is on board again to direct the film, which will be released in two parts. However, some people are upset that the role of Bilbo, formerly played by actor Elijah Wood, has gone to English actor Martin Freeman (The Office, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).
It is likely that the film will once again be shot in New Zealand, although monetary disputes have arisen and this may eventually lead to the selection of another locale. New Zealand’s film industry, however, is rallying to keep the $500 million dollar film on Kiwi shores. Thousands turned out to protest a possible move, arguing that New Zealand “is Middle Earth.” A decision should be reached by the end of the week.
Part One of The Hobbit is expected to be released in December 2012.