Lights, cameras, Hobbit action

The bickering is over, the director is on the mend, and The Hobbit is about to start shooting.

Hobbiton, near Matamata, has announced it will be closed for five weeks from February 14.

While Matamata locals were tight-lipped about any goings-on, Matamata-Piako Mayor Hugh Vercoe confirmed filming was due to start and that the Hobbiton site – used for Shire scenes in The Lord of the Rings and now rebuilt for The Hobbit – would be a closed set.

"I'm just aware that filming is about to start," Mr Vercoe said.

Production company Three Foot 7 Ltd has had resource consent to film on the site since December 2009.

Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours refused to comment.

Hobbit publicist Melissa Booth denied the film had a start date.

"I don't think the mayor knows what's going on with our filming."

The Hobbit has been beset with problems – the most recent of which being director Sir Peter Jackson's surgery in Wellington Hospital on January 26 for a perforated stomach ulcer. Ms Booth said yesterday that Jackson was home and "doing well".

Matamata Robert Harris cafe owner Nick Kirsopp said everyone was talking about when filming would begin. "There was talk about the 14th of February."

Mr Kirsopp was unsure if that was still the case now that Jackson had been ill.

The Dominion Post