“The Hobbit” Starts Filming

the-hobbitPeter Jackson‘s much-anticipated and several times delayed “The Hobbit” has finally started filming, the “Lord of the Rings” director confirmed in a message posted on his website.

The news is certainly welcome to fans of the “Lord of the Rings” films after it became unclear last year whether “The Hobbit” will ever be made. In the past several months, the two-part prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” encountered several problems, including funding problems and a threatened boycott by local actors in New Zealand, where the film will be shot. Jackson, who took over the film after first director Guillermo del Toro backed out last year, also suffered a stomach ulcer that required him to undergo emergency surgery last month, further delaying filming of the $500-million project.

“The Hobbit,” which focuses on Bilbo Baggins’ quest for a treasure guarded by the dragon Smaug, stars Martin Freeman as the home-loving hobbit. “Lord of the Rings” stars Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchet, and Andy Serkis, who provides the voice of the creature Gollum, have also signed up to join “The Hobbit,” whose first film is set for a late 2012 release.