The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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The Hobbit is a three-part epic fantasy-adventure film series directed and produced by Peter Jackson and based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel of the same name. The films will act as a prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and will star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, as well as several actors who will reprise their roles from The Lord of the Rings, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, and Orlando Bloom.

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh expressed interest in 1995 in filming The Hobbit, which would be part one of a trilogy (the other two would have been based on The Lord of the Rings). Frustration arose when Jackson's producer, Harvey Weinstein, discovered Saul Zaentz had production rights to The Hobbit, but distribution rights still belonged to United Artists (which had kept those rights, believing that filmmakers would probably adapt The Hobbit rather than The Lord of the Rings, and therefore wanted a profit)

On Monday, 30 July 2012, Jackson confirmed plans to make a third film, turning his adaptation of The Hobbit into a trilogy. According to Jackson, the third film would make extensive use of the appendices that Tolkien wrote, to expand the story of Middle-Earth, and published in the back of The Return of the King.

Also returning for the production are a significant part of the production crew: among others, writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, illustrators John Howe and Alan Lee, art director Dan Hennah, and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie. As with the original trilogy, props will generally be crafted by Weta Workshop and visual effects managed by Weta Digital. Additionally, composer Howard Shore, who wrote the score for The Lord of the Rings, has confirmed his involvement in the first two parts of the film project.

Although originally made as a two part film, Jackson and MGM have confirmed plans for a third film as well.The first film is currently titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, with the second sub-titled There and Back Again before the series was expanded into a trilogy. The first and second films were shot back-to-back in New Zealand and are currently in post-production; principal photography began on 21 March 2011 and completed on 6 July 2012. They are scheduled to be released on 14 December 2012 and 13 December 2013, respectively. The final film will be released in the summer of 2014. While the third film will make use of footage originally shot for the first and second films, it will require additional filming as well.

In June 2009, Del Toro revealed he had decided where to divide the story based on comments from fans about signifying a change in Bilbo’s relationship with the dwarves.

The films will act as a prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and will star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, as well as several actors who will reprise their roles from The Lord of the Rings, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, and Orlando Bloom.

Also returning for the production are a significant part of the production crew: among others, writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, illustrators John Howe and Alan Lee, art director Dan Hennah, and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie. As with the original trilogy, props will generally be crafted by Weta Workshop and visual effects managed by Weta Digital. Additionally, composer Howard Shore, who wrote the score for The Lord of the Rings, has confirmed his involvement in the first two parts of the film project