I’m not really sure that a movie that is an adaptation of a very well known book really needs an official synopsis, but Peter Jackson and company have released the first official synopsis about what we can expect when The Hobbit arrives in theaters next year.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of two films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The second film will be The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

Both films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins. Also reprising their roles from The Lord of the Rings movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

The ensemble cast also includes (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, John Bell, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, and Aidan Turner.

The screenplays for both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Jackson is also producing the films, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Ken Kamins, Toby Emmerich and Zane Weiner, with Boyens serving as co-producer.

Under Jackson’s direction, both movies are being shot consecutively in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Filming is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.

Among the creative behind-the-scenes team returning to Jackson’s crew are director of photography Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah, conceptual designers Alan Lee and John Howe, composer Howard Shore and make-up and hair designer Peter King. The costumes are designed by Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor. The score is being composed by Howard Shore.

Taylor is also overseeing the design and production of weaponry, armour and prosthetics which are once again being made by the award winning Weta Workshop. Weta Digital take on the visual effects for both films, led by the film’s visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri. Post production will take place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are productions of 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: An Unexpected Journey will be released beginning December 14, 2012. The second film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is slated for release the following year, beginning December 13, 2013.

Yup, I’ll be in line a year from now.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. LemmyCaution
    December 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm — Reply

    I don’t have the patience to try and figure out how much this differs from the actual book (it’s been decades since I read it), but I am intrigued. If anyone comes across a comparison, I’d appreciate a link. Or, if you are so inclined, I’d be glad to read it here.

  2. MarkW
    December 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm — Reply

    There’s nothing about the plot listed above that clashes with the book. The only thing’s are some of the named characters who will be showing up in the movie who weren’t in the book – Legolas, Galadriel, Saruman, and Frodo. But those characters could all be added to the movie in a way that barely would affect the plot of the book at all.

    The major change will probably be that the movie version will be a clear prequel to the LoTR, whereas the book really isn’t.

  3. Beren1
    December 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm — Reply

    I also foresee an explanation of where Gandalf goes when he leaves the dwarves at the edges of Mirkwood. It is mentioned in either the Silmarillion or in the Appendices of the Return of the King, maybe both. I went back and reread the Hobbit recently and I am almost positive I know where the 1st movie will leave off and where the second one will pick up.

    • Seneca
      December 15, 2011 at 6:27 am — Reply

      Gandalf explains it in the book, he was called upon to investigate a necromancer, and then he spent time marshaling other wizards to take the necromancer down. Only the cartoon didn’t explain it.

      • MarkW
        December 15, 2011 at 8:01 am — Reply

        Wasn’t the necromancer “retconned” to be Sauron? It’s been a long time since I’ve read either book, so I don’t remember exactly.

        • PeGe
          December 20, 2011 at 10:11 am — Reply

          Yes, that’s quite right.

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