Middle Earth Remains in New Zealand as “Hobbit” Dispute is Resolved

Middle Earth isn't going anywhere.

The hotly anticipated "Hobbit" movies will be shot in director Peter Jackson's homeland of New Zealand after all, just like the hugely successful "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was. Jackson had threatened to pull out after local unions protested working conditions, but Prime Minister John Key announced things were back on track, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Executives from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema met with Key and won an agreement for a change in labor law and bigger tax breaks to keep the $500 million project in New Zealand after a dispute over pay and conditions for actors threw the production into turmoil last week.

"The Hobbit" is J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to "The Lord of the Rings."

"It's good to have the uncertainty (surrounding the movies) over and to have everyone now full steam ahead on producing these two movies," Key told reporters after two days of intensive talks in the capital, Wellington.

Economists have said the overall value of producing the films in New Zealand would add up to $1.5 billion to the local economy. The flap began after New Zealand Actors' Equity imposed boycott on the project last month after Jackson refused to hold talks on wages and conditions for local actors.

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