Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” staying in New Zealand, PM reports

By Sean O’Connell Peter Jackson’s Shire isn’t going anywhere.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced today that, after days of negotiations, “The Hobbit” will film in New Zealand after all.

“I’m pleased to announce an agreement has been reached between the New Zealand Government and Warner Brothers to enable the two ‘Hobbit’ movies to be directed by Sir Peter Jackson, to be made New Zealand,” Key said, according to 3 News in New Zealand. “Making the two movies here will not only safe guard work for thousands of New Zealanders but will also allow us to follow the success of the ‘Lord of The Rings’ trilogy and once again promoting New Zealand on the world stage.”

In addition, 3 News reports that New Zealand will host one of the “Hobbit” world premieres.

The movie is expected to begin filming in February. Martin Freeman has been cast in the film in the lead role of Bilbo Baggins. Sir Ian McKellen is expected to reprise his role of Gandalf. The first “Hobbit” will be in theaters in 2012.

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