The Hobbit began filming today in New Zealand, after one of the most protracted and fraught pre-productions in recent memory.

The long-awaited prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy has finally outlasted financial concerns for MGM studios, a labour conflict, the loss of director Guillermo del Toro and subsequent rescue by Lord of the Rings godfather Peter Jackson, Jackson’s health scare, and an earthquake that rattled New Zealand.

Warner Bros. has released a statement confirming as such.

Jackson, an Oscar-winning director and his crew have begun filming at Stone Street Studios in Wellington.

Perhaps to convince the skeptical, the acclaimed filmmaker even launched a new Facebook page with two new photos of him from the set.

Del Toro, who filmed Pans Labyrinth, had initially signed on to direct the movie, but pulled out of the project because of the ongoing delays.

Jackson stuck to his guns, however and a spokesman on set told the Wall Street Journal that “the mood is really great”.

The Lord of the Rings movies have pulled in a total of $2.9 billion at the box-office and a new 15-disc Blue-ray box-set is scheduled to hit shelves on June 28, 2011.

he Hobbit is set to be released in two parts, the
first of which will be released in late 2012 and the second will follow
in 2013. Both movies are being shot in digital 3-D.

May we hear nothing more of this until we see the first teaser trailer! Godspeed, The Hobbit!