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Hobbit may have date with Valentine

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 17/01/2011

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Shooting of Sir Peter Jackson's Hobbit films will begin in Wellington next month and a possible start date is one that fans would love – St Valentine's Day.

Wellywood insiders have told The Dominion Post 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."

Film publicist Melissa Booth confirmed filming would start next month but said the exact date had yet to be set.

The films' stars would soon be arriving in Wellington to launch the production. "It will be for a significant number of the actors. I don't have a date yet, but I am hoping it will be in a couple of weeks' time."

Whether The Hobbit will provide new locations for Wellington tourist operators to add to their Lord of the Rings site tours is unclear.

A Wellington City Council spokesman said no resource consent applications, or requests to use public land, had been received from Jackson's team. "It sounds like a lot of it will be done in the studios," Ms Booth said.

One area that definitely won't be used is the site of the former Kingdom Come set near Wellington Prison, according to a spokesman for Jackson.

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.

Martin Freeman will play Bilbo Baggins, Cate Blanchett Galadrial, and Orlando Bloom Legolas.

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- The Dominion Post

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