Boy, there is a lot going on with the Hobbit these days. Many of you know of it’s troubling developmental history. Production, directors, actors, labor unions and of course studio problems. All old news, and if your behind the curve on that I’m sorry but it’s too much to go into. At this point it’s all history, a horrible mess indeed but history none the less.

The good news now is that the Hobbit is getting made, it’s being directed by the big man himself (or is it skinny man now) Peter Jackson and will begin shooting in February 2011. Great news, right? Well sorta. There is a bit of sad news regarding the studio shooting location. As you all know the Lord of the Ring films where all shot in Jackson home of New Zealand. The Hobbit, the two part prequel was to shoot there as well. Heck, the entire Hobbit town has been built and waiting for people in Hobbit feet to run about them. However, after a labor union dispute with a pairing of a small New Zealand actors’ organization and Australian outfit put a boycott on the film it threw a  huge wrench in the works.  This dispute was recently resolved and just when it seemed things were gonna go smooth Peter Jackson said the following (via :

The damage inflicted on our film industry by [the actors unions] is long since done. The move has undermined Warner Brothers confidence in the industry and they are now, quite rightly, very concerned about the security of their $500m investment. Next week Warners are coming down to New Zealand to make arrangements to move the production offshore. It appears we cannot make films in our own country even when substantial financing is available.

MUCH MORE AFTER THE JUMP (Including the confirmed Hobbit cast)

Jackson was also quoted as saying he would have loved to stay in New Zealand, but the studio made the final decision to move locations.

Where would the production go? Eastern Europe has been one possible destination, as mentioned by Peter Jackson. But his wife, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings co-writer and co-producer Fran Walsh, says Warner Bros. is keen on using the Leavesden Studios where Harry Potter was shot.

Fran Walsh told Radio NZ today,

[Warner Bros. has] a huge studio that Harry Potter have vacated that they own and they say would be perfect for us.

Now, as far as I know this all just means that they won’t be shooting studio stuff in New Zealand. This report doesn’t say anything about using the lush landscape for EXTERIOR shots. Which, I sincerely hope they do. Then again if it moves, it’ll all move.

Before this latest news sends you spiraling down the hate train. Here is some good news.

Martin Freeman has been confirmed as Bilbo Baggins, taking over the role originated by Ian Holm.

Complementing Mr. Freeman are:

  • Richard Armitage (MI-5, Captain America) as Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Dwarves, whose grandfather ruled the Lonely Mountain settlement destroyed by Smaug.
  • Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) as Kili and Fili, nephews of Thorin.
  • Graham McTavish (Secretariat) as Dwalin, blue-bearded, first to arrive at the home of Bilbo Baggins.
  • John Callen as Oin, skillful fire-maker. Brother of Gloin.
  • Stephen Hunter (All Saints) as Bombur, the fat, sleepy and slow member of Thorin’s company.
  • Mark Hadlow (King Kong) as Dori, strongest of the Dwarves, who carries Bilbo on his back at one point.
  • Peter Hambleton (The Strip) as Gloin, brother of Oin, initially suspicious of Bilbo’s worth, but eventually convinced. Father of Gimli from The Lord of the Rings.

Peter Jackson comments on these decisions. Here are his comments:

Despite the various rumours and speculation surround this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us… There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave — exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.

Richard [Armitage] is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle Earth is in such good hands.

Rob [Kazinsky] is an extremely talented young actor with a huge career in front of him. I’m thrilled that he has agreed to take on the role of Fili. Besides his talent as an actor, Rob is also a champion sword fighter and I’m looking forward to seeing the damage he can do to a horde of marauding Goblins … Aidan [Turner] is a wonderfully gifted young actor who hails from Ireland. I’m sure he will bring enormous heart and humor to the role of Kili.

Graham [McTavish] is a terrific actor, with a great depth of experience, which I know he will bring to the role of Dwalin. I have worked with Mark Hadlow on many projects, he is a fantastic actor…I am also proud to annouce the casting of New Zealand actors as Peter Hambleton, John Callen and Stephen Hunter. Fran and I know that they will bring great depth and talent to our Company of Dwarves.
Some real news! Finally! I’m so glad… precious. Question is what do you do you think of these casting choices? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

Category: Film

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