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"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a movie, directed by Academy Award-winner Peter Jackson, that is the first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece "The Hobbit," by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The first movie follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the 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.

The three films tell a continuous story 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 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sin- ister figure known only as the Necromancer.

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 ingenuity 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, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. Also reprising their roles from "The Lord of the Rings" in "The Hobbit" trilogy are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as Old Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The international ensemble cast of the trilogy also includes James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, Graham McTavish, Adam Brown, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Manu Bennett and Conan Stevens.

The screenplay for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

Under Jackson's direction, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second and is being released in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D) in select theaters, other 2D and 3D formats, and IMAX. Production took place at Jackson's own facilities in Miramar, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand. Post production took place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

The creative behind-the-scenes team returning to Jackson's crew included director of photography Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah, conceptual designers Alan Lee and John Howe, editor Jabez Olssen, and makeup and hair designer Peter Swords King. The costumes were designed by Ann Maskrey, Richard Taylor and Bob Buck. Taylor also oversaw the design and production of armour, weapons, creatures and special makeup, which were once again made by the award-winning Weta Workshop. Weta Digital took on the visual effects for the film, led by senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri. The visual effects supervisor was Eric Saindon, with David Clayton serving as animation supervisor. The film features the song "Song of the Lonely Mountain," performed by Neil Finn.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presentation of a WingNut Films production. All three films in "The Hobbit" trilogy, also including "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," and the final film, "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.

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Genre: Fantasy
Runtime: 169 mins.
Release Date: December 14, 2012
Tagline: From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends.
Country: USA, New Zealand
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Co-Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Production Company: WingNut Films

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