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'The Hobbit' Heads Into Pre-Production!

We usually don't announce pre-production start dates because, well, nothing all-too exciting goes on in pre-production except for script work, location scouting and the building of sets. But when the film just happens to be the next Lord of the Rings installment – and the sets being built happen to be The Shire – well, then, that's something you fans might want to know.

Yes, TheOneRing.net (which is a fantastic source for all things Lord of the Rings related) has posted a bunch of images showing construction vehicles in New Zealand plowing and digging while laying the groundwork to rebuild Hobbiton, which, of course, was where Sam, Frodo and all the rest of the Hobbits live.

Guillermo del Toro will direct The Hobbit this time around, with original LotR director Peter Jackson working in a producing role. The film will be split into two, and will not stray from the source material as rumored in the past. As of now, we're still waiting for our main character, Bilbo Baggins (featured as an adult in the first film), to be cast – with some saying that role could go to James McAvoy or David Tennant. Actual production will begin next year with the first installment arriving in theaters in December 2011.

What are you looking forward to most out of The Hobbit?

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