PARK CITY, Utah — The first trailer for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" made it quite clear that Middle-earth hasn't changed much in the years since Peter Jackson concluded his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. That's not a complaint, mind you — fans have come to know and love Jackson's interpretation of the J. R. R. Tolkien fantasy epic with the same passion they have for the source material. When it comes to "The Hobbit," in other words, change is not necessarily welcome.
Speaking with MTV News at the Sundance Film Festival, Jackson explained that it was always his intention to keep "The Hobbit" tonally and visually consistent with the "Lord of the Rings" films.
"We wanted it to be a part of the five-film series," he explained. "Fortunately, Tolkien wrote a lot of extra material in the appendices of 'The Lord of the Rings,' where he himself kind of tied the two stories together, 20 or 30 years after the publication of 'The Hobbit.' So we've been able to use some of that material." But even though Jackson's "Hobbit" isn't "as much of a children's story as the original book was," he's worked hard to make sure the films still "have some humor" to them. For example, Jackson promised that "some of the songs [from the novel] have made their way in there." Fans can get their first taste of those tunes in the "Hobbit" trailer, when the dwarves gather in Bilbo Baggins' humble abode to sing a somber song. Finding that balance between staying true to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy while allowing the "Hobbit" films to stand on their own has been an enjoyable challenge for Jackson, who is more than thrilled to once again be dabbling in dwarves and dragons. "I'm enjoying the movie [as much as the fans], which is the thing that I'm really excited about," he said. "I love going to work every day. I love shooting it. In February, we start another 100 days of shooting, so by about July, we're done. We will have shot both movies by that stage." "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" storms into theaters December 14. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival is officially under way, and the MTV Movies team is on the ground reporting on the hottest stars and the movies everyone will be talking about in the year to come. Keep it locked with MTV Movies for everything there is to know about Sundance.