The first of the Peter Jackson-directed installments will be called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Warner Bros will release the film Dec. 14, 2012. The second installment, The Hobbit: There And Back Again, will be released a year later, on Dec. 13, 2013. The films revolve around the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), and his efforts to thwart the fearsome dragon Smaug. I’d heard way back when that Jackson was eyeing Bill Nighy to provide the voice of the dragon, but Jackson hasn’t yet announced who he got, and I’m told the whole thing is being kept under lockdown. Jackson has brought back from The Lord of the Rings such cast members as Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee and Hugo Weaving.
The other unanswered question is, since Jackson is shooting the Hobbit films in 3D, will New Line owner Warner Bros convert the original LOTR franchise into 3D format? Despite the recent indications that audiences are tiring of forking over extra money for 3D conversions on films that seem just as palatable in 2D, seeing Middle Earth in 3D through that classic trilogy seems like an event that many would feel is worth an extra couple of bucks. It would give the trilogy a new theatrical and ancillary life. It seems inevitable, though it might be a ways down the line.