Everything We Know About 'The Hobbit' So Far

March 14th, 2012 2:32pm EDT


New Line

There are a lot of great movies coming out this year, and every one of them wants you to believe it's the biggest film event of the decade. "The Dark Knight Rises"! "The Hunger Games"! The Avengers"!

But as fantastic as those films look, there's one movie coming out this year that is set to rule them all: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." So before the onslaught of contenders begins, we thought we'd take a look at everything we know so far about this year's champ.

Release Date: December 14

Star Power: Many of the biggest stars from "The Lord of the Rings" are returning to reprise their roles, including Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood and the ageless Christopher Lee. Most of those folks will just have minor parts, but there's one superstar who's in it for the long haul: Ian McKellen, who returns as everyone's favorite elderly wizard, Gandalf. No offense, Dumbledore, that's just the way it is.

New Line

Next Factor: Last time around, "The Lord of the Rings" turned a bunch of unknowns and obscure actors, including Bloom and Viggo Mortsensen, into worldwide stars. So who stands to be the breakout sensation of "The Hobbit"? Even money is on Martin Freeman. Not that Freeman -- who has starred in films like "The Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy" and plays Watson in the BBC's "Sherlock" -- is obscure, but it's safe to say that playing lead character Bilbo Baggins is a whole different level from anything we've seen him do before.

Behind the Camera: Fantasy master Guillermo del Toro was originally slated to direct "The Hobbit," and the auteur behind films like "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy" put in a lot of time trying to make it work, spending over two years developing ideas for the film. Thanks to Hollywood's insistence on making everything more complicated than it needs to be, however, he eventually gave up in order to peruse other projects, which pretty much forced producer Peter Jackson to step in and do it himself. We're guessing "Lord of the Rings" fans aren't too upset about that.

Movie Math: "The Lord of the Rings" x "The 13th Warrior" รท "Snow White" = "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Backstory: Most of you probably already know that "The Hobbit" was written by J.R.R. Tolkien way back in the 1930s. Buoyed by its success, Tolkien later went on the write "The Lord of the Rings," and countless readers were inspired to write their own fantasy stories, effectively launching the entire genre. You can count Peter Jackson among that number as well; in order to flesh out "The Hobbit," Jackson and writing partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have expanded on minor passages and created entire new scenes and characters. Sorry, purists!

Also Check Out: Why You Want to See "The Hobbit" (Even if You Don't Love Fantasy)

In a Nutshell: Jackson and company have split "The Hobbit" into two parts, but here's what you're likely to see in the first half of the epic. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit of no particular renown, is minding his own business when Gandalf and a pack of dwarves pass through The Shire. They decide it would be good luck for them to bring Bilbo along, and, bored, he says, "Why the hell not?" And then orcs happen.

New Line

The Buzz: Few movies have ever been quite as highly anticipated as "The Hobbit," and that's no exaggeration. For decades, fans had been praying for a live-action adaptation of the novel, and when Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy earned over $2.9 billion worldwide, it looked like "The Hobbit" was inevitable. For the last decade, though, the film has been stuck in legal limbo, which has only ratcheted anticipation even higher. So be warned: When you go to see this one, there's a reasonable chance someone might literally explode from excitement in the theater. Bring a raincoat.

Why We're Psyched: Not only did we love all nine thousand hours of "The Lord of the Rings," the movies were actually really good; "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" won 11 Oscars. And since almost everyone who made those films so great is back -- besides Jackson and the cast, most of the film crew is the same, with the filming even taking place on some of the same sets -- you can be sure that "The Hobbit" is one movie that will actually live up to everyone's sky-high expectations. For once all the hyperbole is justified, because this really is the movie event of the decade.

Related: Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Celebrity, Movies

Photo Credits: New Line

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