Peter Jackson's hospitalization led to delay

Peter Jackson will begin shooting “The Hobbit” films on March 21, the New Zealand-based production company has announced.

Jackson had been hospitalized Jan. 26 with a perforated ulcer, leading to what was then termed a “slight delay” in the start of production. Production had originally been scheduled to start in February.

Production company 3Foot7 Ltd. made the start date announcement Monday in New Zealand.

“This date has been chosen following practical considerations of the filming schedule requirements, actor availability and the NZ seasons,” it said. “Shooting will take place at Stone Street Studios in Miramar and on location around New Zealand.”

“Hobbit” cast includes Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett reprising their roles from “Lord of The Rings” trilogy. Other cast include Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Rob Kazinsky, Aidan Turner, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Mikael Persbrant and Sylvester McCoy.

Wood’s character in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy inherited the titular ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom. The “Hobbit” story in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel centers on the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, who obtains the ring.

Jackson said in the announcement, “Despite some delays we are fully back on track and very excited to get started.”

Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing the films with co-writer Philippa Boyens serving as co-producer and Ken Kamins and Zane Weiner as exec producers.

Warner Bros. and MGM announced last month that Warners will handle worldwide distribution on “The Hobbit,” taking over the international distribution and home video on the films from MGM in exchange for funding MGM’s half of the production costs. The “Hobbit” films will be released in December 2012 and December 2013.

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