The announcement, made jointly by New Line president and COO Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. president and COO Alan Horn, and MGM co-CEO Steve Cooper, says the "the two films based on 'The Hobbit' are now greenlit and will begin principal photography in February 2011, under the direction of Peter Jackson."
The announcement does not mean, however, that the labor issue acting as a hurdle for the production has been resolved. And it's the resolution of that dispute which will determine where the movie will shoot.
The dispute lies between Jackson and an array of unions, including New Zealand Actors’ Equity and SAG. A “do not work” order is in place on the production, which has refused to recognize union jurisdiction for local actors. Discussions in New Zealand are being facilitated by that country’s government, with little progress reported to date. SAG would not comment on whether it is involved in negotiations.
If the movie does not shoot in New Zealand, the country where Jackson made his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the filmmaker said Warners are looking at five different locales around the world to host the project.
- Borys Kit