'The Hobbit' (finally) begins filming in New Zealand

hobbit.jpgAfter a lengthy journey, Peter Jackson's anticipated "The Hobbit" has finally begun filming.

Variety reports that production began in Wellington, New Zealand on Sunday (Mar. 20). Shooting for the two 3D films will take place over the next 14 months, after the New Zealand government altered labor laws and increased the production incentives in order to keep the filming in their country.

The "Lord of the Rings" prequel, based on the classic J.R.R. Tolken novel, has faced controversy for some time now. Adversities have included a 2005 law suit over "Rings" profits, a change of director, MGM bankruptcy filings and the cherry on top -- an ulcer, which led Jackson to be hospitalized in January.

Phew, here's hoping the filming goes off without a hitch. The two movies are slated for release in 2012 and 2013, starring Martin Freeman, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett.