"The two films based on 'The Hobbit' are now greenlit and will begin principal photography in February 2011, under the direction of Peter Jackson," New Line President Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. President Alan Horn and MGM co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Cooper said in a joint statement.
It's not clear, however, if the prequels to the blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" franchise also will be filmed in New Zealand. A labor dispute between Jackson and local labor groups remains unresolved. New Zealand Actors' Equity has placed a "do not work" order on the production, which is refusing to recognize jurisdiction for local unions, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Jackson said Warner Bros. is looking at five other locations around the globe to produce "The Hobbit" if no agreement is reached in New Zealand.