Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit' Officially Begins Its Epic Journey (to Theaters!)

[caption id="attachment_40565" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Peter Jackson / Facebook"][/caption]

"The Hobbit" was quickly becoming one of those projects that would only exist in Middle Earth's oral history. Everything was going so smoothly in 2008 when Guillermo del Toro stepped up to direct the proposed two "Hobbit" films. Two years later, he jumps ship, and it became a studio mess, with financers MGM in a state of near-bankruptcy. Finally, Peter Jackson stepped up to direct, everything again in place, the money finally realizing itself, a 2011 start date...and then what happens? The man gets a perforated ulcer.

Well, Gandalf can finally stop shaking his fist at the sky -- according to Peter Jackson's Official Facebook Page (via FilmShaft), "The Hobbit" is officially in full swing, and to prove it, the director has posted two pictures of himself in a very familiar Hobbiton location.

The two films have yet to be officially announced or named, but we do know they will be shot in 3-D and feature many of the players from the original "Lord of the Rings" films. Back are Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Andy Serkis as Gollum and a confirmed appearance by Elijah Wood as Frodo. Along with the mainstays will be Martin Freeman ("The Office UK," "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy") as the lead role, Bilbo Baggins and enough new dwarves to make your head roll.

The official press release did not mention a release date for the films, but with filming beginning now, expect these epic blockbusters to hit in late 2012 at the earliest, with 2013 being a much safer bet.