The Hobbit might be filming in Watford, UK rather than New Zealand, as talks to keep the two films in Jackson’s homeland continue.

The new home of The Hobbit?

Having been temporarily blacklisted by the same national film community that had been blessed with the money and tourism magnet that was The Lord of the Rings, you could forgive Warner Bros., Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh for wanting to give two fingers to New Zealand as a location and head off to Leavesden Studios in Watford, home of the Harry Potter films.

A far more local studio for Martin “Bilbo Baggins” Freeman, it also offers a wealth of real estate upon which to film, and a colossal indoor studio space. We may lose those amazing shots of the New Zealand countryside, but the upside is no more drama from unions who’re probably writing their own suicide notes as we speak, like the now infamous New Zealand Actor’s Equity.

The film’s $500m budget is the big sticking point, as it’s a significant investment in a country who’s total population isn’t even half that of Los Angeles. To lose that cash would be a big financial blow, not to mention the loss of yet two films (as the book is being broken into a two movies) that would boost New Zealand’s revenue from tourism.

Fingers crossed Jackson and co. do decide to stay in the picturesque setting (can you imagine building Hobbiton twice?), and we’ll keep updating you on this as it happens.

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