Diehard JRR Tolkien, Peter Jackson and Orlando Bloom fans are seeing their dreams come one step closer to reality, as the official names and precise release dates of the two film adaptations of The Hobbit have been announced. The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey will hit theaters on December 14, 2012, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again will follow almost exactly one year later, on December 13, 2013.

Back in March rumors flew that director Jackson had registered titles for the pair of Lord Of The Rings prequels, but specifics stayed under wraps, despite Jackson's eagerness to post details about the project on Facebook earlier this month. Some even speculated that Jackson was playing it close to the vest until superstud Orlando Bloom — who was virtually unknown when the first LOTR installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, emerged on the scene — agreed to reprise his role as Legolas.

Now Bloom has signed and the movies are branded. New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, and MGM released a press release confirming the involvement of other LOTR favorites. "Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey … and Martin Freeman, who just won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the BBC series Sherlock, takes on the central role of Bilbo Baggins. 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."

The movies are being shot consecutively in 3D on location in New Zealand.