The greatest threat that’s ever faced Middle-Earth is finally over, as Warner Bros. executives and director Peter Jackson have agreed to keep production on the back-to-back The Hobbit films in New Zealand.
Recent controversy emerged when actors guilds in America and New Zealand sent out alerts to their union members not to work on The Hobbit due to the production’s alleged refusal “to engage performers on union-negotiated agreements.” Jackson himself denounced the guilds, saying that the $500 million budgeted production was likely to leave New Zealand altogether as a result of the unions’ actions. Even as New Zealand residents rallied together to keep The Hobbit in their country, it remained unclear whether or not the film would shoot would there; but much to the relief of New Zealand’s population and Lord of the Rings fans everywhere, there really is only one place for Middle-Earth.
“I am delighted we have achieved this result,” New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said of the announcement, reports Deadline. “Making the two Hobbit movies here will not only safeguard work for thousands of New Zealanders, but it will also follow the success of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy in once again promoting New Zealand on the world stage. It’s good to have the uncertainty over, and to have everyone now full steam ahead on this project.”
Key added that the controversy that almost caused The Hobbit to flee the country has “highlighted a significant set of concerns for the way in which the international film industry operates. We will be moving to ensure that New Zealand law in this area is settled to give film producers like Warner Bros the confidence they need to produce their movies in this country. This will guarantee the movies are made in New Zealand.”
The Hobbit begins production in February under the direction of Peter Jackson. Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins alongside a growing cast list that includes Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield.
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