Despite delays caused by industrial disputes, financial problems and a stomach ulcer, filming of The Hobbit has finally begun in New Zealand.
The long-awaited prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy began filming this week, capping the New Zealand-born producer and director Peter Jackson's epic struggle to get the US$500 million (Dh1.8 billion) two-part production off the ground.
Since announcing his intention to film The Hobbit, Jackson has clashed with his country's actors' union over a collective bargaining agreement, with the producers, Time Warner Inc, threatening to shoot the film in another country. The New Zealand government responded by changing its labour laws last year to keep the production there.
However, this delay led to the departure of the original director, Guillermo Del Toro, who had other film commitments, forcing Jackson to take the reins. The films then became involved in a race dispute when a film extra claimed she was informed she couldn't play one of the hobbits because her skin was too dark for the role. Jackson also had surgery on a perforated stomach ulcer earlier this year.
Both films will star the British actor Martin Freeman as the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Joining him are Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom and Andy Serkis.
Adapted from JRR Tolkien's book, The Hobbit is set in Middle Earth and follows Bilbo in his journey to reclaim the lost Dwarf kingdom of Erebor.
Part one is scheduled to be released in December of next year, with part two due for release in 2013.