The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has launched its official one-year countdown to release.
The first of two Peter Jackson-directed Lord of the Rings prequels will hit theatres on December 14, 2012, reuniting cast members Sir Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) in his attempt to take back the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. As he travels across Middle-earth, Bilbo encounters the devious Gollum (Serkis) and first comes into contact with the creature's precious "ring" which ties their fates together.
An official synopsis describes the mythic meeting of Bilbo and Gollum: "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 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.
"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 guile 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."
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey brings together an ensemble cast of acclaimed actors and actresses including Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy and Hugo Weaving.
The second part of Peter Jackson's prequel, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is released in cinemas worldwide two years from now on December 13, 2013.
Screenplays for the films have been written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Jackson.
The Hobbit movies, which are being produced back-to-back by Jackson, began shooting in New Zealand in March.
The first trailer for The Hobbit: There and Back Againwill premiere in the US in front of The Adventures of Tintin from December 21.