Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Jackson sets Hobbit filming date

It's time to celebrate again in Middle Earth. Peter Jackson is set to direct The Hobbit, the two-part prequel to the popular Lord Of The Rings trilogy and start shooting in February, Warner Bros said today.

The movies, based on JRR Tolkien's books, had been delayed by union issues and the continuing restructuring of flailing Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns half the project.

Jackson, who directed the Rings trilogy, had originally hired Guillermo del Toro to direct, but del Toro left the project in May because of delays after working on the project for nearly two years.

Jackson also co-wrote the screenplays with del Toro, his wife Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens.

"Exploring Tolkien's Middle Earth goes way beyond a normal film-making experience," Jackson said. "We're looking forward to re-entering this wondrous world with Gandalf and Bilbo."

The two movies will be shot back to back using digital 3D cameras. Earlier this year, Warner Bros had been criticised for hastily converting Clash Of The Titans into 3D after shooting it using regular cameras.

The Time Warner subsidiary even cancelled plans to bring Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 to the screen in 3D on November 19 because it was not able to complete the conversion process in time. The final Harry Potter instalment will hit cinemas in 3D next July.

Jackson hinted at the importance of shooting the Hobbit movies in 3D from the start.

"It's an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama," he said.

No release dates for the movies was given.