Filming on the two Hobbit movies has begun following months of delays caused by funding problems, a row over actors’ wages and surgery for its director.
Filming is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.
Production on the films, starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, is expected to take up to two years. The first is due out in late 2012.
In January, director Peter Jackson had surgery for a perforated ulcer.
Studios Warner Bros and New Line had previously considered taking the production away from New Zealand after acting unions threatened to boycott the films in protest over payments.
The films had earlier been stalled by problems including rows over distribution rights and the exit of original director Guillermo del Toro.
The film, which also stars Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, Andy Serkis as Gollum, Elijah Wood as Frodo and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, is based on JRR Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel.
The Hobbit films act as a prequel to Jackson’s trilogy of films based on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.