The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Five Facts About The Next Peter Jackson Film (PHOTOS)

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Ian McKellen as Gandalf

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer debuted today, nearly 10 years to the day that the first of The Lord of the Rings films hit theatres.

The prequel, which sees producer and director Peter Jackson return to Middle Earth, is already slated for huge things, and despite the film not being due for release until December next year the publicity drive is already in full swing for one of 2012's most highly-anticipated films.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is part one of The Lord of the Rings prequel, the second film titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will be released in December 2013.

Both are set in Middle Earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, which Jackson brought to the big screen in a blockbuster trilogy, culminating with the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

In An Unexpected Journey Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) will set out on an adventure to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug, joined by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), Oakenshield's band of Dwarf warriors, and Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellan).

Also reprising their roles from The Lord of the Rings movies are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

While we wait with bated breath for December 2012 here are five things we've already learned about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey...

1. The 13 dwarves carry an average luggage of nearly 80kg of dwarven accessories, while cooking in a fat suit, prosthetics and a serious amount of facial hair.

2. Peter Jackson made Stephen Fry eat something gross for his part as The Master of Laketown. "He had me eating testicles... gross appetites. I mustn't give too much away but I've got a bald cap and then on top of that a really bad combover wig and this wispy moustache and wispy beard and horrible blotchy skin and disgusting fingernails," Fry told Digital Spy.

3. Bilbo possesses the same sword that Frodo wielded in the Mines of Moria (and elsewhere). Glowing blue whenever there is orc danger near, it is pretty much an essential item for mythical quests and gives us the first hint that Bilbo will have to step up to become a hero.

4. It will be no bedtime story. "Can you promise that I will come back?" asks Bilbo, "no", says Gandalf. This frank exchange between Gandalf and Bilbo sees Jackson inject a frisson of danger into what's considered a more child-friendly story than The Lord Of The Rings.

5. To say thank you to New Zealand for its hospitality, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will receive its world premiere in New Zealand. Jackson told local journalists visiting the set that the movie will debut in Wellington in December 2012.

SLIDESHOW: Meet some of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey cast...

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Around the Web

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) - IMDb

THE HOBBIT Trailer HD - YouTube