UPDATE: Ian McKellen's official site was recently updated, announcing that The Hobbit films are now shooting in July, rather than June as originally stated.Ian McKellen has confirmed on his website that filming on The Hobbit will indeed begin in July for a year-long shoot.
McKellen is returning to The Hobbit films as Gandalf.
"THE HOBBIT's, two films, start shooting in New Zealand in July. Filming will take over a year. Casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started. The script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth.
The director Guillermo del Toro is now living in Wellington, close to the Jacksons' and the studio in Miramar."