Done Deal. The Hobbit Starts Filming in February... hopefully
Now the only (small) hurdle is the hoo-ha with the actors unions remains. I've no doubt that'll get resolved ASAP.
Here's the important bit from the Times:
Apparently, only an ongoing union dispute in New Zealand now stands between “The Hobbit” and a start date in February. Warner Brothers’ New Line Cinema unit and MGM have worked out their deal to finance the pair of films to be based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and Peter Jackson’s deal to direct is now finalized, according to a person who was briefed on the movie’s intricacies this week. But continuing uncertainty over attempts to have the filmmakers bargain collectively with their actors in New Zealand still stands between the production and its planned February start date (already delayed from an anticipated January date). New Zealand officials have said the production can’t legally enter a collective bargaining arrangement with its actor-contractors, but unions there have insisted that a deal could be struck. If the studios move the film out of New Zealand, the budget, which already runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, would have to be redrawn, and at least some further delay would be inevitable.