'The Hobbit' Completes Filming, Peter Jackson Posts Facebook Message (Photo)

Peter Jackson The Hobbit - H 2012
<p>Peter Jackson The Hobbit - H 2012</p>
After 266 days, principal photography on the epic "Lord of the Rings" prequel has wrapped.

An Unexpected Journey has reached its end.

A set of prequels years and some legal wranglings in the making, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again finished shooting in New Zealand on Thursday, director Peter Jackson wrote on his Facebook page.

"We made it! Shoot day 266 and the end of principal photography on The Hobbit," he wrote. "Thanks to our fantastic cast and crew for getting us this far, and to all of you for your support! Next stop, the cutting room. Oh, and Comic Con! Cheers, Peter J."

The highly-anticipated films remain a bit of an enigma; beyond its distant shoot in the lush Pacific island-nation, the film was shot at a faster 48-frames rate, which drew criticism from those who viewed advanced footage at Cinemacon, mainly complaints that it was too bright and did not look "cinematic." The Oscar winner, however, was resolute in his confidence in the advanced technology (which will cost some theaters extra to display).

"A lot of the critical response I was reading was people saying it’s different. Well, yes, it certainly is,” Jackson later told The Hollywood Reporter. "But I think, ultimately, it is different in a positive way, especially for 3D, especially for epic films and films that are trying to immerse the viewer in the experience of a story."

The Hobbit stars Martin Freeman (The Office, Sherlock) as Bilbo Baggins and returns many of the stars of the three Lord of the Rings films, including Sir Ian McKellan as Gandalf. Benedict Cumberbatch, Freeman's Sherlock co-star, will provide motion capture and voicework as the Necromancer and Smaug. The first film hits theaters on December 14, while the second arrives a year later.