‘Hobbit’ Delayed Again After Jackson Stomach Surgery

Filming of “The Hobbit” movies may be delayed again after director Peter Jackson underwent surgery in New Zealand for a perforated ulcer this week.

Jackson, 49, was admitted to Wellington Hospital on Jan. 26 after experiencing acute stomach pains, according to an e-mailed statement from Melissa Booth, publicist for “The Hobbit.” Doctors expect the Oscar-winning director, who is currently resting, to make a full recovery, the statement said.

“Peter’s surgery is not expected to impact on his directing commitment to ‘The Hobbit’ beyond a slight delay to the start of filming,” Booth said in the statement.

Jackson’s illness is the latest delay to the two-film prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Warner Bros Productions Ltd. considered moving production in October after workers threatened a boycott. Guillermo del Toro, who was originally slated as director, withdrew in May and also in October fire ripped through a Wellington studio where parts of the film were to be shot.

“The Hobbit,” the tale of Bilbo Baggins’ quest to win treasure guarded by Smaug the Dragon, is due to start filming in New Zealand next month. Actors reprising their Rings roles include Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood and Cate Blanchett, according to a statement from Tourism New Zealand.

The Rings trilogy added about NZ$350 million ($270 million) to New Zealand’s economy in the three years to March 2002, and boosted tourism as fans flocked to locations where Frodo battled Orcs in a recreation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

(Adds previous delays in third paragraph.)
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