‘The Hobbit’ to start filming in March: director Jackson


WELLINGTON — Filming on the troubled big-budget production of “The Hobbit” will finally start in March, director Peter Jackson confirmed on Monday, after months of wrangling and delays. The cameras will start rolling on the US$500-million production on March 21, in the New Zealand autumn, after taking into account filming schedule requirements, actor availability and the seasonal weather. “Despite some delays we are fully back on track and very excited to get started,” Oscar-winning director Jackson said in a statement. The two-part prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” has been dogged by problems, including a union threat to boycott the movie. The studio agreed to keep filming in New Zealand after the government changed employment laws and granted the studio millions of U.S. dollars in tax breaks. The project had earlier been stalled by rows over distribution rights, reported budget blowouts and financial woes at the MGM studio, prompting director Guillermo del Toro to quit last year. It was further delayed late last month when Jackson was rushed to hospital complaining of stomach pains and underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer. Jackson was discharged last Thursday and said he would continue his recovery at home.