The two Hobbit films will be shot back to back much like the original LOTR Trilogy was and it looks like cameras will be rolling February 2011.
The Wrap broke the story, I believe, and that posting was followed closely by an official announcement from New Line and Warner Bros, which I first heard about on The Hollywood Reporter.
What's still up in the air is where they'll shoot, which is a bunch of bull**** if you ask me. New Zealand is Middle Earth. This whole actor union bollocks is ridiculous. I know many people who have worked both in front of and behind the camera on the LOTR films and everyone was payed above union minimums. This doesn't feel to me like the unions fighting against a greedy overlord not wanting to pay his employees a fair wage, but a way to flex nuts.
If you want to read more on the goings on, I suggest this interview over at TheOneRing.Net with NZ filmmaker Chaz Harris, who started a petition to drop the boycott.
I don't know about you guys, but I don't want this petty bull**** to force a move to Ireland or somewhere. New Zealand is just as much part of the identity of those films as Jackson himself.
But I'm sure calmer heads will prevail and this power play will dissolve eventually and we'll all be happy.