This just in - I've just heard from a very reliable source that Upper Hutt will be overrun by a large film crew, come February 2010. My source mentioned it would probably be in the vicinity of Harcourt Park, which was of course the location for the gardens of Isengard, where Gandalf arrives on his horse and tells Saruman that he's found the One Ring.
Harcourt Park is a very green park full of grass, trees and shrubs, and was primarily used in LOTR to give Isengard a "cultured, English garden" look. I'm having a hard time picturing it as anything other than Isengard. The only Hobbit location I can think of would be Beorn's house, but that's just speculation, of course.
Technically, Isengard doesn't appear in The Hobbit book, although if the script includes the White Council sequences as widely reported, then we may yet see a return to the tower of Orthanc during the time that Saruman is still a good guy.
There is another possibility - Upper Hutt was also used for various river locations, notably the River Anduin and the scene where Brego rescues Aragorn from the (unnamed) Middle-earth river. There are a few rivers in The Hobbit story, so it might be a completely different location altogether.
If the crew arrives as early as February, they must be building quite a significant filmset, given that Peter Jackson has just announced that filming won't begin until mid 2010. To put that in perspective - Rivendell took almost three months to build, and Edoras took almost eight months. Helms Deep and Minas Tirith took about two months each. If they start building in Upper Hutt in February, and filming doesn't begin until June, that might be quite a major set by the time they're done!
Anyone have any thoughts? Please leave them below!
- Jack M.