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New titles, release dates set for 2nd, 3rd "Hobbit" films

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," based on the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy. Warner Brothers

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES - Peter Jackson's journey back to Middle-Earth is a little clearer, with the announcement of titles and releases dates for the second and third films in "The Hobbit" trilogy.

Originally planned as a two-part adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel, Jackson announced in July that he was expanding his "Hobbit" to three films.

On Friday Warner Brothers announced that the second film, now called "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," will arrive in theaters on Dec. 13, 2013.

The third film, "The Hobbit: "There and Back Again," will bow seven months later, on July 18, 2014.

"There and Back Again" was originally the subtitle of the conclusion of the second of two films.

The first film, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," opens on December 14.

The films - prequels to Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" epic - star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, and a number of actors returning from Jackson's Oscar-winning "LOTR" cycle, including Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee , Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

"The Hobbit" screenplay was written by Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Bovens and Guillermo del Toro (who had originally signed on to direct, but left after studio squabbles delayed production).

David Morgan

David Morgan is a senior editor at and

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