Despite reports that Warner Bros./New Line has “officially” given the green light to start production on the two-part Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, no date was mentioned in the studio’s announcement. Published reports said on Friday that MGM and Warner’s have reached an agreement on financing the movie, and the film’s producer/director, Peter Jackson, issued a statement welcoming it. “Exploring Tolkien’s Middle-Earth goes way beyond a normal film making experience,” Jackson said in the statement. “It’s an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama.” The statement made no mention of the row Jackson and an Australian union are embroiled in over union representation of New Zealand actors hired for the movie. Should that controversy remain unresolved, Jackson has indicated, he plans to move the production to a different, more accommodating, country — something that would delay the beginning of production even further.
UPDATE: A joint statement by the studios said that principal photography will begin in February.