5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Martin Freeman, Luke Evans, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Evangeline Lilly, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, Lee Pace, Ian Holm
Release Date: December 14
Why we’re excited: It’s been a very long, strange, and problematic road for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in the director's two-part series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s initial Middle Earth novel.

The saga begins, of course, with the award-winning and box office smashing triumphs of Jackson’s three The Lord Of The Rings movies, which solidified the previously horror-savvy filmmaker as the fantasy genre’s new titan. Soon after the final part of the trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, hit theaters to widespread acclaim in 2003, speculation began on whether he’d make the official Hobbit prequel; at one time, Jackson was only set to produce, having called upon Guillermo del Toro to the direct the pair of surefire blockbusters. Extensive delays and financial issues with distribution company Metro-Goldwyn Mayer led to del Toro’s departure, though, prompting Jackson to step back into the big-man’s chair.

Based on the trailer, released two weeks back, all of The Hobbit’s production drama hasn’t seemed to knock Jackson’s hustle in any way; with Martin Freeman cast as Bilbo Baggins, and Lord Of The Rings regulars Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, and Ian McKellen all back in action, it feels like we’ve never left the Shire.