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OTRC: 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' - watch new trailer (Video)

Martin Freeman appears as Bilbo Baggins alongside Gollum in New Line Cinema's and MGM's fantasy adventure 'the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,' a 2012 Warner Bros. Pictures release. It is the first of a three-part prequel to the hit 'Lord of the Rings' franchise. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

A new trailer for Peter Jackson's film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the first of three films that serves as a prequel to his hit "Lord of the Rings" trilogy has been released and features part of a key scene with a popular and sinister character - Gollum.

The animated character, portrayed by Andy Serkis, is obsessed with the One Ring of power, which he calls his "precioussssss." It makes up a surprise part of a game of riddles he plays with the film's hero, the insecure but curious Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, and is a crucial element of the plot of both "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings."

The fantasy sagas are based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien. "The Hobbit," shot in 3D, depicts the adventures of Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, who is the uncle of "Lord of the Rings" hero Frodo, portrayed by Elijah Wood. In "The Hobbit," the older Baggins teams up with the wizard Gandalf and a group of dwarves on a quest to find a treasure guarded by a dragon, Smaug.

Wood reprises his role in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," which is set for release on December 14. The first trailer was released last year. The second installment in the trilogy, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," hits theaters on Dec. 13, 2013, while part 3, "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," is set for release on July 18, 2014.

Other returning "Lord of the Rings" actors include Orlando Bloom, who plays Legolas the elf, Ian McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf and Cate Blanchett, who reprises her role as the elf Galadriel.

Evangeline Lilly of "LOST" fame will play a new character, the Woodland Elf, Tauriel. Jackson had said on his Facebook page in June, adding: "Her name means 'daughter of Mirkwood' and, beyond that, we must leave you guessing! (No, there is no romantic connection to Legolas)."

The dwarves are played by actors such as James Nesbitt, Graham McTavish, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher and Jed Brophy. Benedict Cumberbatch, recently seen in the films "War Horse" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," portrays Smaug.

Wood told OnTheRedCarpet.com in November that the two "Hobbit" films will be "fantastic," thanks to the innovative 3D animation techniques director Peter Jackson is using.

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