After the delay caused by Peter Jackson’s perforated ulcer, production has begun on the two back-to-back 3D Lord of the Rings prequels in New Zealand. The cast had its first script read-through at Jackson’s Stone Studios on Thursday, sitting in a semi-circle inside the set of Bilbo Baggins’ house. Ian McKellen has blogged that having Jackson and co-screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens inviting comments on their script so far “is as close to bliss as an actor can get”. New Line and MGM are co-producing these two new Tolkien epics – rumoured to be titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – with Warner Bros financing. The two Hobbit films are due to be released late 2012 and 2013, respectively.

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