In case you missed the news,
"...Team Jackson, New Line, and MGM have made nice and are gearing up to launch 2 HOBBIT movies.
One will be an adaptaion of J.R.R. Tolkien's THE HOBBIT. The second project is believed to be a bridge between THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy - culled from the titanic amount of periphery/ancillary/notated material found in Tolkien's works."
This is awesome news! We've been waiting for this!
There has been a lot of speculation on Ain't It Cool News regarding the casting.
A lot of people want (nay, INSIST!) on bringing Ian Holm back as Bilbo Baggins.
From a continuity standpoint, that would be ideal. But Ian Holm is already 76 years old! The Hobbit takes place about 60 years before The Lord of the Rings and they won't even begin filming until 2009! He'll be 78.
One of the AICN commenters suggested that Matin Freeman would be a good choice for the young Bilbo.
I think that would be BRILLIANT! He looks perfect!
Elrond is another cross-over character that appears in both The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Obviously, Agent Smith would be the preferred choice, again, for continuity.
But someone suggested (and I agree), that Sam Neill would make a perfectly servicable substitute.
You pretty much have to have Ian McKellen
as Gandalf the Grey.
Gandalf is the glue that binds all of these stories together. You can recast almost every other cross-over character. But you need Ian McKellen!
I'm intrigued about the "bridge movie".
The Hobbit is basically a childen's story. It was written in the style of a grandfather telling a story to the grandchild on his knee. The Ring wasn't evil. It was just magic and it made you invisible! Very handy for stealing gold from dragons!
The Lord of the Rings was MUCH darker and more adult. The Silmarillion and the Unfinished Tales even more so.
I hope that Peter Jackson "darkens" The Hobbit and that the sequel includes enough of the back story from the First and Second ages to allow for future franchise movies derived from Feanor
and Turin Turambar
and Beren and Luthien.
Despite the almost 24 hours of extended DVD versions of the entire trilogy, they have only just scratched the surface of the Tolkein Universe.
I want to see it ALL!