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 14, 2012. The second film, titled "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," is slated for release the following year, 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 Peter Jackson's direction, both movies are being shot consecutively in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Filming is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.
Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in "The Lord of The Rings" trilogy, and Martin Freeman, who just won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the BBC series "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 (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O'Gorman, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, and Aidan Turner.
The screenplays for "The Hobbit" films are by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Peter Jackson is also producing the films, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham. The executive producers are Ken Kamins and Zane Weiner, with Philippa Boyens serving as co-producer.
"The Hobbit" films are productions of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production. Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television licensing being handled by MGM.