No big surprises in the news out of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth (aka New Zealand), but it’s geeky cool all the same: The two films that make up his long-awaited adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (which cameras are finally rolling on after years of legal, financial, personnel, and even union labor issues) will be titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (in theaters December 14, 2012) and The Hobbit: There and Back Again (in theaters a year later on December 13, 2013).
These titles are familiar to longtime fans of the 1937 book (a single, relatively short novel that takes place 60 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, but that Jackson and his creative partners Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and one-time Hobbit director Guillermo del Toro are dividing into two feature films): An Unexpected Journey is a paraphrase of The Hobbit‘s first chapter title, “An Unexpected Party,” and There and Back Again is the alternate title of Tolkien’s book.
And in other fun (but not unexpected) Hobbit news, Orlando Bloom has finally officially signed on to reprise his role as Legolas Greenleaf. Again, astute Tolkien fans know that Legolas, the elven heartthrob and ace archer of LOTR, is the son of the Elvenking Thranduil of the Wood Elves of Mirkwood, a significant figure in The Hobbit plot (played by Lee Pace in the films). Legolas does not appear in Tolkien’s novel, but at the time of the book’s setting the character would have been about 80 years old (still a young man in Elvish years), so it’s no stretch to at least give him a cameo or a few small things to do in the film version.
Other non-Hobbit characters from LOTR are also set to return in the new films alongside Andy Serkis’ Gollum, Hugo Weaving’s Elrond, and of course Ian McKellan’s Gandalf the Grey. It looks as if Christopher Lee’s health has improved enough that he’ll be back briefly as Saruman the White, leading the White Council of wizards and Elven lords–including Cate Blanchett’s Lady Galadriel–in an early action against Sauron that takes place “off-stage” in the book.
And while Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins in the new films, Elijah Wood will once again play Frodo in a framing device set prior to the events of LOTR–Ian Holm’s “Old” Bilbo will tell his young nephew this tale of dragons, dwarfs and magic rings that took place decades before Frodo was born.
So what say you all? Do you like the films’ new subtitles? Are you okay with Bloom popping up briefly again as Legolas? Any other Hobbit issues or questions you’re concerned about with December 2012 less than 19 months away?
More from the cast of The Hobbit films at redbox:
- Martin Freeman in Wild Target
- Christopher Lee in Triage and The Resident (also with Lee Pace)
- Hugo Weaving in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
- Cate Blanchett in Robin Hood on DVD and Blu-ray