Buried in a recent report at Deadline about Peter Jackson's involvement with the relaunched King Kong attraction on the Universal Studios tour was a little nugget of info stating that The Hobbit was scheduled to finally begin shooting this November in New Zealand. We've heard so many reports about potential start and release dates for this project that, frankly, we're wondering whether the two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to The Lord of the Rings will EVER get made.
Well, all right, we know it will get made eventually. But there've been so many false starts to the project—mainly thanks to the continuing financial problems of the studio behind the production, MGM—that every time we hear a new date on which director Guillermo del Toro will allegedly begin filming the thing, we end up feeling a little less confident.
After all, it was here that Ian McKellen, who is pretty much a lock to reprise the role of Gandalf, said that filming was going to start this July, after first posting that cameras would roll in June. That info disappeared from McKellen's website, however, after news of MGM's money woes became public (the studio is partnered with Warner Brothers on the Hobbit films, but is still looking for a buyer).
Now Deadline says that both Hobbit scripts are in, and following a big production meeting next month in New Zealand, casting will begin in earnest.
Another big question is whether the movies will be shot in 3-D. Del Toro hinted on the message boards at TheOneRing.net in March that he had gotten nibbles from the studio heads about going 3-D on the project, although he didn't sound too enthused himself. But visions of $20 tickets dancing in the minds of cash-hungry execs may turn that around.
So as of right now, The Hobbit starts filming in November, with a Christmas 2011 release date for part one, and a Christmas 2012 arrival for part two.
Check back next week to see if that's changed again.