New images of "The Lord of the Rings" famed characters set to appear in new film "The Hobbit" have caused a stir amongst the franchise's fans this week.
Although it has been almost a decade since the last of the "Rings" trilogy hit theaters, fans everywhere are anxiously anticipating the December release of the classic J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired "The Hobbit." Additionally, this year's Comic Con in San Diego draws thousands of "Rings" fans from July 12-15.
Ahead of "The Hobbit" and Comic Con, exclusive images in Entertainment Weekly provide a close look at the new movie. The magazine also offers interviews with "Rings" stars Martin Freeman who portrays Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen who plays Gandalf, as well as director Peter Jackson.
While thinking up ideas for "The Hobbit," Jackson used a range of Tolkien's writings, and added characters not present in the "Hobbit" book - such as Orlando Bloom's character, elf Legolas, and Cate Blanchett's elven ruler Galadriel.
"In the movie we want these characters to have story lines and a little more substance that they do in the books," explained Jackson, according to EW. "Almost everything we're doing is from Tolkien somewhere, whether it's in the book of the subsequent development that wasn't published in 'The Hobbit' itself."
McKellen noted the years between "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit."
"A lot of people weren't even born when we were filming 'Lord of the Rings' and only know the movies from watching them on DVD," said the actor. "They'll see Middle-earth on the big screen in 'The Hobbit' and I guarantee there will be a lot of minds blown wide apart."
On Twitter, "Lord of the Rings" fans have sounded off about the insight into the upcoming movie.
"New images of The Hobbit will make you wish you're an elf," wrote Fred.
Lee posted, "[The movie is] going to be epic!"
"You can tell how far technology has improved over the last 8 years when you look at that picture," observed Twitter user Mark.
"Still frothing at the mouth for this," posted David. "December cannot come quick enough."
To check out the new photos from "The Hobbit," visit EW.com.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is set to hit theaters Dec. 14.