The Hobbit Starts Shooting Today

And two Dwarf Kings have been cast...

Given all the obstacles in their way up until now, you might, like many of us, have become unwilling to accept that the two Hobbit movies would actually exist until Peter Jackson physical strode on set to start shooting them. Good news, then: the production kicks off today!

Relatively speaking, of course – they’re kicking off in New Zealand, so calculating for time differences (checks sun dial, realises that’s a stupid idea), they started cranking the cameras either this morning, last night, tomorrow or sometime in a parallel dimension. But all kidding aside, things are finally, really moving on this monster.

The cast, including Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Dwarves Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Ken Stott (Balin), Graham McTavish (Dwalin), William Kircher (Bifur), James Nesbitt (Bofur), Stephen Hunter (Bombur), Rob Kazinsky (Fili), Aidan Turner (Kili), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), John Callen (Oin), Jed Brophy (Nori), Mark Hadlow (Dori) and Adam Brown (Ori), plus Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, have been in place for a couple of months now, getting ready for their various roles. And waiting for Jackson to overcome surgery for a perforated stomach ulcer.

There’s more - Heat Vision Blog’s story mentions that two other cast members have signed on, with New Zealand actors Jeffrey Thomas and Mike Mizrahi joining up as Dwarf Kings Thror and Thrain. And Warner Bros. has finally officially confirmed the casting of Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Elijah Wood (Frodo) and Andy Serkis (Gollum), even if we’ve all known they’d be part of the film for ages.

Intended as two 3D movies to be released in late 2012 and 2013, the Hobbit will film at Wellington’s Stone Street Studios, as well as several locations around the country. Many of the LOTR team are, somewhat naturally back, including cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, composer Howard Shore, concept artists Alan Lee and John Howe and Oscar-winning bigature enthusiast Richard Taylor.

And, to mark the occasion, Jackson posted two images of himself hanging out in the newly reconstructed Bag End to his Facebook page, which you can check out below.

Just to give these pictures a bit of context, here's Mr. Jackson one more time, but back in the days of Fellowship Of The Ring in 2001. A whole decade... doesn't time fly when you're making Oscar-winning fantasy epics, eh?