Despite tempting offers to take The Hobbit to Eastern Europe or the now-vacant Harry Potter studios in London, Warner Bros has come to an agreement with New Zealand to keep Middle Earth where it belongs.
Prime Minister John Key announced the news at a press conference today following hours of negotiations between Warner Bros. and New Zealand government leaders. Apparently New Zealand will offer an extra tax rebate of $7.5 million per movie, as well as paying $10 million of Warner Bros’ marketing costs. In exchange New Zealand will host one of the world premieres, and Warner Bros. will help promote the country as both a film production and tourism destination
This appears to be the final hurdle for The Hobbit after years of delays and the recent actors union boycotts. Director Peter Jackson and the team will now start working ready for filming in February. Martin Freeman has been confirmed to play Bilbo Baggins alongside Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum/Smeagol. Jackson has also cast his dwarves (click here for the full rundown).