LOS ANGELES (AP) - It’s time to celebrate again in Middle Earth.
Peter Jackson is set to direct “The Hobbit,” the two-part prequel to the popular “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and start shooting in February, Warner Bros. said in a release on Friday.
The movies, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, had been delayed by union issues and the ongoing restructuring of flailing Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which owns half the project.
Jackson, who directed the “Rings” trilogy, had originally hired Guillermo del Toro to direct, but del Toro left the project in May because of delays after working on the project for nearly two years.
Jackson also co-wrote the screenplays with del Toro, his wife Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens.
“Exploring Tolkien’s Middle Earth goes way beyond a normal filmmaking experience,” Jackson said in the statement. “We’re looking forward to re-entering this wondrous world with Gandalf and Bilbo.”
The two movies will be shot back to back using digital 3-D cameras. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. had been criticized for hastily converting “Clash of the Titans” into 3-D after shooting it using regular cameras.
The Time Warner Inc. subsidiary even canceled plans to bring “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” to the screen in 3-D on Nov. 19 because it wasn’t able to complete the conversion process in time. The final “Harry Potter” installment will hit theaters in 3-D next July.
In the statement, Jackson hinted at the importance of shooting the “Hobbit” movies in 3-D from the start.
“It’s an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama,” he said.
No release dates for the movies was given.
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