Monday, January 17, 2011
Locals hush as Hobbit date set
Last updated 10:51 17/01/2011
The pitter patter of hairy feet is getting louder in Matamata with The Hobbit to start filming next month.
Wellywood insiders have told the Dominion Post that Valentine's Day – February 14 – is when cameras will start rolling on the two films.
However, Sir Ian McKellen – who is reprising his Lord of the Rings role as Gandalf – said via his website: "I am happy to say I start filming in Wellington on February 21, 2011."
Matamata-Piako locals are watching for the shutdown of the district's famous Hobbiton movie set tours as a definite sign that filming is under way on the long-awaited prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films.
Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours manager Russell Alexander was tight-lipped today.
"I've got meetings coming up but I'm bound by confidentiality and I can't talk, and I can't say what I do know," he said.
Film publicist Melissa Booth confirmed filming would start next month but said the exact date had yet to be set.
Matamata-Piako Mayor Hugh Vercoe said the long-term economic benefits for the district outweighed the immediate economic impact of production.
Unlike the set built for the Lord of the Rings films which was dismantled following filming, the one rebuilt for The Hobbit would remain permanently, providing a future drawcard for fans once filming finished.
Ongoing tourism from first movies meant it would be difficult for locals to detect an influx of crew and actors for The Hobbit when filming did begin.
The town was "looking absolutely fabulous" and was ready to welcome the film crews with open arms, he said.
The official announcement that McKellen would play Gandalf in The Hobbit was made only last week.
Other returning cast members have also been announced, with Elijah Wood to return as Frodo and Andy Serkis as Gollum, Cate Blanchett as Galadrial, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. Martin Freeman, of UK's The Office, will play Bilbo Baggins.
- Waikato Times