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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.

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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 at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.

 
 
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Back in December I wrote that Orlando Bloom was wrote in on the initial script for The Hobbit but was never confirmed from the actor or his casting agent. But Peter Jackson has confirmed on his FaceBook of the following:

"Ten years ago, Orlando Bloom created an iconic character with his portrayal of Legolas. I’m excited to announce today that we’ll be revisiting Middle Earth with him once more. I’m thrilled to be working with Orlando again. Funny thing is, I look older—and he doesn’t! I guess that’s why he makes such a wonderful elf."

Bloom is the latest Lord of the Rings cast member to join The Hobbit.  While Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), and Gollum (Andy Serkis) actually appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, Jackson has apparently made room for Legolas, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), old Bilbo (Ian Holm), and Frodo (Elijah Wood).  Hit the jump for the synopsis of the novel.  The two-part 3D film is set for December 2012 and December 2013.

Here’s the synopsis for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit from Amazon.com

"Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit, is a peaceful sort of cozy hole in the Shire, a place where adventures are uncommon and rather unwanted. So when the wizard Gandalf whisks him away on a treasure hunting expedition with a troop of rowdy dwarves, he’s not entirely thrilled. Encountering ruthless trolls, beastly orcs, gigantic spiders, and hungry wolves, Bilbo discovers within himself astonishing strength and courage. And at the ultimate confrontation with the fearsome dragon Smaug, the hobbit will brave the dangers of dark and dragon fire alone and unaided."