After much struggle and strife, Peter Jackson is back in the place he belongs — Middle-earth.
The Oscar-winning director and his crew have just begun principal photography on the “The Hobbit,” the two-film, $500-million fantasy adventure that appeared in serious jeopardy over the last year in the face of a studio fiscal crises, the defection of Guillermo del Toro, an especially nasty union dispute and Jackson’s own stressful (and stress-induced?) hospital stay.
With all of that, the first day of shooting at Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand, must have felt like a finish line for the 49-year-old Jackson,who looks fairly serene in photos posted on his new Facebook page. The Wall Street Journal quoted a chipper-sounding spokeswoman who says “the mood is really great” on the set and you can bet the good cheer will spread throughout Hollywood — “The Hobbit” promises a companion epic to Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which merely pulled in $2.9 billion in worldwide box office and that was before the 3-D craze and its pricier tickets. The first of the two new films (which are indeed being shot in digital 3-D) is due in theaters in late 2012, the second arrives the following year unless Orcs or MGM get in the way.
UPDATED: In related news, Warner Home Video has just announced that “The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Edition” on Blu-ray will be released on June 28. It’s a 15-disc collection with 26 hours of special features which means, literally, there’s just just not enough hours in the day. The collection follows last year’s Blu-ray release of the individual films. There will be more information coming at the official “Lord of the Rings” trilogy website.
— Geoff Boucher
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