The cinematic return to Middle Earth that is The Hobbit has set both dates and titles for the two-part adaptation.
The first film will be titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and will open Dec. 14, 2012. The second part will follow Dec. 13, 2013, under the moniker The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
According to a release from New Line, Warner Bros. and MGM, the films are being shot consecutively in digital 3D at Stone Street Studios in Wellington and on location around New Zealand. Weta will be heading up the visual effects work.
Director Peter Jackson also has announced that actor Orlando Bloom will reprise the role of Legolas that he played in The Lord of the Rings. Other cast members include Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey and Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. Other actors reprising their roles from The Lord of the Rings movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; 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 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. 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 films are, of course, based on the classic fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkein.