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'The Hobbit' Close to Get Green Light, New Zealand Studio Gets Burnt

October 2, 2010, 6:39 am GMT

The studio in Wellington, which would be used to film some scenes of the movie, was wrecked in a serious fire which caused extensive damage to the structure on Friday, October 1.



After a long delay, "The Hobbit" may come to production soon. Sources familiar with the matter tell Los Angeles Times that Warner Bros., its subsidiary New Line Cinema, and partner Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are close to give green light to two parts of the "Hobbit".

Several problems like rights issues with J.R.R. Tolkien's estate have been settled while recent union issues which threaten the filming in New Zealand are reportedly close to be solved. Additionally, the site mentions that the studios nearly finalize a deal with Peter Jackson to serve as director, producer and co-writer for the two films.

However, MGM still has to settle its financial problem. The company, which is set to co-finance both films, is expected to approach a number of potential investors, including 20th Century Fox which already has a deal with MGM to release its movies overseas. Other solutions are outside financial investors or Warner Bros., which could loan MGM its share in exchange for additional distribution rights to the pictures.

While several issues have been solved, another problem hits "The Hobbit" as a key studio in Wellington, New Zealand was wrecked in a serious fire. AFP reports fire investigators took three hours to put out the fierce blaze on Friday, October 1.

A spokesman for Jackson's Wingnut Films production company, Matthew Dravitzki, has confirmed the studio would be used to shoot parts of "The Hobbit". He tells NZPA (via WENN), "It would have been used in the shooting of 'The Hobbit', yes. It's a specialist miniatures shooting facility, it's one of the only ones in the world, and I can't comment at this point as to whether (the damage) will cause a problem. I probably won't know that until after the weekend."

The cause of the fire is now being investigated though nothing suspicious has been found so far. No one was hurt during the incident.

"The Hobbit" should start production in mid-January so that the first part would be ready for December 2012 release. "The Hobbit 2", in the meantime, is slated to arrive a year later. Some suggest that if the principal photography is not kicked off by the first quarter of next year, "The Hobbit" will miss its planned release dates.

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