The Hobbit Who Played With Fire

After financial issues and the union strike threat, Peter Jackson’s anticipated film adaptation of “The Hobbit” has once again hit a stumbling block.

This time a fire broke out Friday at Jackson’s Portsmouth Miniatures Studio in New Zealand, engulfing and destroying one of the few specialist miniature shooting facilities in the world reports Deadline.

It took fifty firefighters three hours to put out the blaze, leaving only a burned out warehouse in place of one of the key workshops that would’ve been used by the production.

The news came just hours after a report emerged at The Los Angeles Times that the studios were close to green lighting the project, having resolved most of the key issues that have held up the project.

The article cites that the two films would be shot together on a budget approaching $500 million for the pair, with $45 million having already been spent on pre-production. Barring last-minute issues that might raise their heads, shooting could begin by mid-January which would have the films in theaters for Christmas 2012 and 2013.

On Sunday the problem of the union dispute over the film looked to be headed towards some kind of resolution as well as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key stepped into the fight and offered government officials to help mediate the dispute reports The Herald Sun.

Key is very keen on keeping the projects in New Zealand, however film industry officials from Australia, Canada, Scotland and Ireland are all campaigning to serve as potential replacements if the dispute cannot be resolved.