Date: 4th October 2010

Hobbit Workshop Set Destroyed by Fire

The Hobbit prequel has been plagued by financial set-backs, the threat of a union strike, and now a fire has engulfed one of the workshop sets that would have been utilized in making the movie, damaging the facility beyond repair.

According to Deadline, flames engulfed Peter Jackson's Portsmouth Miniatures Studio in New Zealand, which would have been used for the The Hobbit as a specialist miniature shooting facility, one of the few that exist in the world. All that is left of the property is a burned out warehouse. It took more than fifty firefighters to put out the blaze, which lasted for more than three hours.

Officials say the cause of the fire is being investigated, "They have to sift through the rubble and work their way to an area where they believe the fire started," TVNZ reports.

The shop would have been used in production of The Hobbit films, but no word on how extensive the damage might have been. Setbacks won't stop production, though!

Jackson is determined to get fans back to Middle-earth and is finalizing deals with the studios and unions, and settling problems with author J.R.R. Tolkien's underlying rights.

The (possibly) last obstacle?

Finding a way to finance the two-parter, which will cost half a billion dollars! (Small change, when you consider The Lord of the Rings trilogy raked in $3 billion worldwide.)

Warner Bros. and New Line Cinemas are ready to fork over half of the money, but it's taking a little longer for MGM to commit after struggling with bankruptcy for more than a year. MGM is expected to give the OK within a few days, the Times reports, and a deal with the Screen Actors Guild may also be close.

The prequels have been in preproduction for years, with $45 million already being spent. But if things get moving in January, we may be seeing Gandalf, Bilbo and Gollum back on the screen in time for the 2012 holiday season, and then again in 2013.

Source: Press Release