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OTRC: 'The Hobbit' films get official titles and release dates

Peter Jackson in a 2011 photo from the set of 'The Hobbit' films. (facebook.com/PeterJacksonNZ)

The two-part film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," directed by "Lord of the Rings" helmer Peter Jackson, now has official titles and release dates, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. and MGM announced on Monday.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first film in the series, will be released on Dec. 14, 2012 and the sequel, "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," is to be released on Dec. 13, 2013.

Filming of "The Hobbit" began in March in New Zealand, after a series of setbacks, including actors threatning boycots, studio funding issues and Jackson undergoing surgery for an ulcer.

"The Hobbit" will be split into two films and will star British actor Martin Freeman of "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" as hobbit Bilbo Baggins. The movies serve as a prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy that was written by J.R.R. Tolkien and which Jackson helmed to blockbuster film success.

Jackson is bringing back many familiar faces from the "Rings" franchise including Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom and Ian Mckellen. The actors are set to reprise their roles from the previous franchise.

Other actors cast in the movie include Ken Stott as Dwarf Lord Balin, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown, and Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn.

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