There is a green light at the end of a long tunnel for fans who have been waiting to take the cinematic journey back to Middle-earth. It was announced today by the studios involved that “The Hobbit,” film will shoot starting in February 2011 with Peter Jackson as its director, showing in two installments expect to hit theaters in December 2012 and 2013.
Jackson said in a press release from the studios:

“Exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth goes way beyond a normal film-making experience. It’s an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama. We’re looking forward to re-entering this wondrous world with Gandalf and Bilbo – and our friends at New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers and MGM”.

Fans have been waiting for this announcement since the cultural phenomenon of Jackson’s first ground-breaking foray into Middle-earth, “Lord of the Rings” trilogy swept the Oscars with its final installment, “Return of the King,” in 2003. The New Zealand director was largely unknown internationally last century when New Line Cinema took a risk to finance three films based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien. He returns to the fabled setting as an accomplished and much sought-after director after an incredible amount of adversity preceded the start of the films.

According to the press release:

“Jackson will utilize groundbreaking visual effects and his incomparable story-telling to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel to the big screen. Both Hobbit movies will be filmed in Digital 3-D, using the latest camera and stereo technology to create a high quality, comfortable viewing experience. Jackson also co-wrote the screenplays with Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.

The release also specifies the way that the three studios involved will handle the production which promises to be massive:

“The Hobbit” is being co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production, Warner Bros Pictures handling domestic distribution and MGM distributing internationally. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing the films, with Phillipa Boyens as co-producer and Ken Kamins as executive producer.

The press release did not detail where the films will be made while Jackson’s home nation of New Zealand scrambles to resolve a labor dispute about actors’ compensation that prompted the studios involved to look at other potential locations. You can read the full text of the release right here.

Jackson’s special effects house, the award winning Weta co-founded with Academy Award winner Richard Taylor is expected to work on the films no matter what location is used but extras and other locals in New Zealand would be impacted if the production leaves the island nation.

Previous events or obstacles for “The Hobbit” include:
* “Make The Hobbit Happen” campaign and petition
* Peter Jackson vs. New Line Cinema lawsuit
* Tolkien Estate vs. New Line lawsuit
* MGM financial difficulties
* Director Guillermo del Toro leaves the production