The Hobbit shoot begins in New Zealand

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The first of three films based on an adaptation of the 1937 novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. It will star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. Several actors from The Lord of the Rings will reprise their roles, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood & Orlando Bloom. Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.

March 21st, 2011

Filming on 'The Hobbit' is finally underway after months of delays.

The troubled movie - starring Martin Freeman as the titular character, directed by Sir Peter Jackson - has begun shooting in Wellington, New Zealand after financial difficulties at studio MGM, planned director Guillermo Del Toro leaving the project and industrial action by actors' unions all pushing the release date further back.

Commenting on the news, Peter's assistant Matt Dravitski said everyone on set was "raring to go".

Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood - who played celestial beauty Galadriel and hobbit Frodo in the previous respectively in the three previous 'Lord of the Rings' movies - have also been confirmed to be reprising their roles in the 3-D prequel.

The movie, which is being split into two films to be released in 2012 and 2013, tells the tale of a group of dwarves played by an all-star cast including James Nesbitt and Robert Kazinsky, who must set off to fight a dragon and reclaim an empire.

Joking about the constant delays recently, lead actor Martin said filming should at least be underway by 2015.

He laughed: "There are some bits of bad luck associated with it but we're ready to go - just as soon as 2015 comes around."