This Week's Cover: 'The Hobbit' -- plus our annual Comic-Con preview

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Nearly a decade after the last of the Lord of the Rings trilogy hit theaters, it’s time to go back to Middle-earth. The Hobbit doesn’t come out until December, but in preparation for Comic-Con (July 12-15 in San Diego) we’ve got exclusive images and on-set scoops from the first of the two movies— An Unexpected Journey — including interviews with Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Ian McKellen (Gandalf), and director Peter Jackson.

To expand the classic J.R.R. Tolkien book so that it could support two feature films, Jackson drew from a range of Tolkien’s writings, adding characters not present in the Hobbit book, including Orlando Bloom’s elf Legolas and Cate Blachett’s elven ruler Galadriel. “In the movie we want these characters to have story lines and a little more substance than they do in the book,” Jackson explains. “Almost everything we’re doing is from Tolkien somewhere, whether it’s in the book or the subsequent development that wasn’t published in The Hobbit itself.”

Adds McKellen: “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…. 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.”

For even more on The Hobbit, as well as EW’s jam-packed guide to Comic-Con—including sneak peeks of Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3, The Walking Dead, and Arrow—pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Tuesday, July 3.

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