'Hobbit' prequel names, release dates set

May 31, 2011 at 1:52 PM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, May 31 (UPI) -- Two prequels based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" have names and release dates are set, New Zealand film director Peter Jackson said.

The first of the two films, currently being filmed in succession in New Zealand, will be called "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and will be released via Warner Bros Dec. 14, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday.

The second sequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy will be released Dec. 13, 2013, and is titled "The Hobbit: There and Back Again."

The two prequels follow the Middle Earth adventures of Bilbo Baggins, to be played by Martin Freeman, in his pursuit to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug, the Reporter said. Ian Holm will reprise his role as the older Baggins.

Other "Ring" veterans reprising their roles include Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Elijah Wood as Frodo and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

Jackson wrote the screenplays with Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro. He is producing the films with Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham.

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