The HobbitBy now, Peter Jackson's acclaimed 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy is so beloved, it's almost hard to imagine J.R.R. Tolkien's novels before it. But 'LOTR' wasn't our first introduction to those crafty little Hobbitses, of course.

In 1937, Tolkien published the children's book 'The Hobbit, or There and Back Again,' which told the story of Bilbo Baggins, a vertically challenged fellow who traveled from his Shire to the lair of the fire-breathing dragon Smaug. Along the way, he met a wise wizard, dodged a few goblins, slew the dragon and found -- and pocketed -- a magical ring. The book ended up being so popular, Tolkien's publishers requested he write a sequel ... which became 'The Lord of the Rings.'

Though less complex than 'The Lord of the Rings,' 'The Hobbit' has long been considered a literary classic, and (aside from a 1978 animated TV movie) the book has never been adapted for the screen. But after the success of Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' films, it seemed inevitable that a movie version of 'The Hobbit' would follow. And now, at last, it will.

The legal issues have been worked out, the casting is underway, and it won't be long before the pain of our 'LOTR' withdrawal is eased. So what do we know so far about the long-awaited 'The Hobbit' movie? Read on.
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