New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM have announced the titles and release dates for filmmaker Peter Jackson’s two-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit. The first film, titled “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” will be released on December 26, 2012 in Australia and December 14, 2012 in the United States. The second film, titled “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” is slated for release the following year, in December 2013 in Australia and slated for release in the United States on December 13, 2013.
Both films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” The adventure of “The Hobbit” follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.
Under Jackson’s direction, both movies are being shot consecutively in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Filming is taking place in Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey and Martin Freeman (UK The Office, Sherlock) takes on the central role of Bilbo Baggins. Also reprising their roles from “The Lord of the Rings” movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
The ensemble cast also includes Stephen Fry, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, James Nesbitt, Lee Pace, Ken Stott and Aidan Turner.