Peter Jackson denies animal cruelty on The Hobbit set

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The first of three films based on an adaptation of the 1937 novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. It will star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. Several actors from The Lord of the Rings will reprise their roles, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood & Orlando Bloom. Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.

November 20th, 2012

Sir Peter Jackson has denied any animal cruelty took place on 'The Hobbit' set.

The legendary filmmaker and Warner Bros. producers insist PETA's allegations about animals being mistreated while shooting the upcoming fantasy flick are ''unsubstantiated''.

They hit back at reports that 27 animals - including horses, goats, chickens and one sheep - died needlessly at a farm near Wellington, New Zealand because of the poor conditions they were housed in, insisting PETA never ''properly'' verified the claims made by four wranglers working on the film.

Peter issued a statement reading: ''The production regrets that PETA has chosen to make such a serious accusation, which has distressed many of the dedicated Kiwis who worked with animals on the films - including trainers, wranglers, care-givers, farm workers and animal health care professionals - without properly vetting the source from which they received this information.''

Warner Bros. added: ''The producers completely reject the accusations that twenty seven animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films. Extraordinary measures were taken to make sure that animals were not used during action sequences or any other sequence that might create undue stress for the animals involved. Over fifty five per cent of all shots using animals in 'The Hobbit' are in fact computer generated.

''The American Humane Association (AHA) was on hand to monitor all use of animals by the production. No animals died or were harmed on set during filming... We regret that some of these accusations by wranglers who were dismissed from the film over a year ago are only now being brought to our attention.''

However, the AHA admitted the deaths of two horses had been ''avoidable'' earlier today (20.11.12) after insisting the farm was no longer in use by Warner Bros.