Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth for the first time since he won three Oscars for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" to tell the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventure to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug.
Baggins, who is played by Martin Freeman ("The Office"), is joined by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), Oakenshield's band of Dwarf warriors, and Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellan). Andy Serkis returns as Gollum. Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, and Cate Blanchett return in small parts to reprise their roles as Legolas, Frodo, and Galadriel, respectively. Evangeline Lilly will play Tauriel, while Luke Evans is on board as Bard.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will be maniacally anticipated by the time of its release, and not just because it follows a legendary trilogy. The film's production is a saga in itself. It's a product of a number of lawsuits and riffs between New Line, Jackson and a number of other parties who fought over profit, finances and rights issues. Director Guillermo Del Toro was initially slated to helm the project, with Jackson producing, but he left in 2010 due to delays to the filming schedule.
The film, out next December, is one of two "Hobbit" pictures Jackson will put out, with "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" slated for release in 2013.