19:23 18 March 2010
The long awaited prequel to Tolkein's trilogy series is to begin filming in the summer, it has been announced.
Actor Sir Ian McKellen, who reprises his 'Lord of the Rings' role as Gandalf the Grey, revealed on his website that casting is taking place in LA, London and New York.
In his statement, the actor said that there would be two films, both will be prequels to the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy directed by Oscar winner Peter Jackson.
Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh will produce the films, to be made back-to-back in New Zealand.
Mexican-born filmmaker Guillermo del Toro will direct the film and its proposed sequel.
Writing on his official website, McKellen added that the script was still being worked on, saying "the first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle-earth".
According to New Line studio, the first film will be an adaptation of 'The Hobbit', the novel Tolkien published before the 'Lord of the Rings' series.
The second will be an original story focusing on the 60 years between the book and the beginning of the Rings trilogy.
Filming is expected to start in June and take over a year, McKellen revealed.
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