While no official announcement has been made, The Wrap is reporting that The Hobbit has been given the greenlight and will begin filming in February. They say Peter Jackson finalized his deal to direct this week, and MGM and Warner Brothers have agreed to give the project the go-ahead.
While MGM’s situation is still unresolved they had to commit to The Hobbit so that filming could begin. The L.A Times reports that, as a back-up plan, “Warner Bros. has agreed to loan MGM the money in exchange for additional rights”. Warner Bros. will release The Hobbit in the US, while MGM has overseas rights.
One hurdle left to overcome is the dispute with the acting unions, who told their members not to take roles in the The Hobbit because actors in New Zealand had “struggled on non-union contracts” for some years and those contracts “provide no minimum guarantees of wages or working conditions”. Peter Jackson warned that he could move the production to eastern Europe, so it will be in everyone’s interest to get this resolved as soon as possible. New Zealand doesn’t want to lose The Hobbit, and Jackson will be wanting to cast actors ready for filming.
So far Ian McKellen is the only confirmed cast member, with Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving possibly returning should the script require it. Martin Freeman confirmed earlier this week that he had to turn down the role of Bilbo Baggins due to schedule conflicts, but if things can be working out he “could give it a go”.
Expect to hear a lot of Hobbit news over the upcoming months!