Hopefully the long run of troubles and setbacks has finally come to an end for Bilbo Baggins and company. After union disputes, a financial crisis or two, a change-up in directors, a severe earthquake and a perforated ulcer, just to mention the highlights, filming of The Hobbit officially began on Monday March 21.
The cast members were finally assembled last month, and many of them will be playing the same roles they had in the trilogy The Lord of the Rings.
Ian McKellen will be returning as the wizard Gandalf the Grey, and Cate Blanchette will return as the Elven Queen Galadriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. Others reprising their trilogy roles are Andy Serkis as Gollum and Elijah Wood as Frodo, future Ring-bearer.
Martin Freeman is Bilbo, in the role taken by Ian Holm in the trilogy. ‘The Hobbit’, as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote it, was an introduction to the land of the Shire and Middle Earth, a prequel to the three ‘Lord of the Rings’ books. In this film, as in the book, during Bilbo’s journey with the dwarves to the domain of Smaug the dragon, he stumbles upon the One Ring of legend, though he has no idea what it really is or how fateful his meeting with Gollum will turn out to be.
The film will be directed by Peter Jackson, who first suggested adapting book to film back in 2007. For a while it looked like he was off the project for good, but he’s back and apparently things are beginning to fall into their proper places. Filming will take place at the Stone Street Studios in Wellington, and in other as yet undisclosed locations around New Zealand. The projected release date of the first of two films in the prequel is late 2012.