Thousands of “Hobbit” fans rally in New Zealand

By Sean O’Connell Jon Stewart can have his “Rally to Restore Sanity.” We’d rather attend the rallies to retain “The Hobbit” that are going on today in New Zealand.

Thousands of fervent supporters – some dressed as characters from the “Lord of the Rings” universe – reportedly have taken to the streets to lobby for Peter Jackson and his crew to remain in New Zealand when they begin filming “The Hobbit,” according to Reuters.

The rallies are timed to the arrival of Warner Bros. executives who are expected to arrive in New Zealand and determine if its economically feasible for the studio to film the two “Hobbit” installments in the country. Prime Minister John Key told reporters he thought New Zealand has “a 50-50 chance” of retaining Team Hobbit.

“I’d love to tell you it’s a done deal, but we’re a long way away from being a done deal. There are a number of issues that we’d need to resolve,” he told the New Zealand Herald.

Where would “The Hobbit” go? Warner Bros. reportedly is considering England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia or eastern Europe. But in a letter read to gathered supporters, Jackson admitted, “This is where Middle Earth was born and this is where it will stay.”

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