Keeping with the tradition of great sci-fi and fantasy films, Peter Jackson in taking audiences into the past with The Hobbit, his two film prequel to the award-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Production of the two films, which will be shot consecutively in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology has already begun in New Zealand.
The Hobbit is set in Middle-earth some 60 years prior to The Lord of the Rings. It follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit of the title, who is swept up in an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. Recruited, some might say conscripted, by Gandalf the Grey, a wizard, Bilbo joins a company of 13 dwarves led by the legendary (at least among dwarves) Thorin Oakensheild. Their journey from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain takes them through treacherous Wild lands inhabited by goblins, orcs, wargs, spiders, shape-shifters and sorcerers.
Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s widely read masterpieces by the same names.
The Hobbit films are being produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, alongside Carolynne Cunningham. Executive producers are Kan Kamins and Zane Weiner with Philippa Boyens as co-producer. Filming will take place at Stone Street Studios in Wellington and on location in New Zealand with screenplays by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Among the other creative behind-the-scenes team returning tot he project are director of photography Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hannah, conceptual designers Alan Lee and John Howe, Composer Howard Shore and hair designer Peter King. Costumes are designed by Anne Maskrey and Richard Taylor. In addition Taylor will be overseeing the design and production of weaponry, armour and prosthetics which are once again being made by the award-winning Weta Workshop. Weta Digital is taking on the visual effects challenge for both The Hobbit films under the supervision of Joe Letteri. Post production will be done at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.
Several familiar faces from The Lord of the Rings films will be reprising their roles in The Hobbit films. In an almost sci-fi-like twist, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee and Andy Serkis will be returning as younger versions of Gandalf, Frodo, Galadriel, Legolas, Saruman and Gollum a decade after they first appeared on the big screen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
The title role of Bilbo Baggins will be played by Martin Freeman however there are rumors that Ian Holm from The Lord of the Rings may be reprising his role as Old Bilbo for The Hobbit films. Other interesting casting rumors include Leonard Nimoy as the dragon Smaug and former Dr. Who David Tennant at Thranduil.
The Dwarves are Thorin Oakensheild (Richard Armitage), Balin (Ken Stott), Dwalin (Graham McTavish), Bifur (William Kircher), (Bofur) James Nesbitt), Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Fili (Rob Kazinsky), Kili (Aidan Turner), Gloin (Peter Hambleton), Noin (Jed Brophy), Dori (Mark Hadlow), and Ori (Adam Brown). The Dwarf Kings are Thror (Jeffery Thomas) and Thrain (Mike Mizrahi). Further casting announcements are expected.
The Hobbit films are co-produced by 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.
The Hobbit Part 1 is scheduled to hit theaters in 2012. The Hobbit Part 2 should debut in 2013.