Release Dates Announced for Peter Jackson's “Hobbit” Movies

Last summer there was so much bad news surrounding "The Hobbit" films that it seemed they'd never get made. In fact, we gave up on chronicling every setback, waiting instead for word of progress. But things are different now.

Not only has shooting begun down in New Zealand--with director Peter Jackson vlogging the films' progress--but it was announced today that the first film, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," will be here Dec. 14, 2012. "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" will follow a year later, on Dec. 13, 2013.

The film follow Bilbo Baggins' struggles with Smaug, a dragon with an incredible pile of riches, who is outraged when the hobbit steals just one small cup.

Martin Freeman, of the original "The Office," is starring in the title role, with Jackson' "LOTR" regulars Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee, Orlando Bloom and Hugo Weaving all back for more adventure. Sadly, Saoirse Ronan is not on board, as had been previously believed.

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