The Hobbit trailer hit the web late on Tuesday evening (December 20, 2011), giving fans their first look at Peter Jackson's hugely anticipated return to the Lord of the Rings universe. Set 60 years before The Fellowship of the Rings, The Hobbit: An Expected Journey focuses on a young Bilbo Baggins, played by British actor Martin Freeman, as he sets off on a journey to take back the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
Reaction to the two minute promo has been almost entirely positive, with attention targeted on the trailer's stunning visuals and Jackson's ability to create something entirely in-keeping with his three earlier efforts, The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Cinema Blend's Eric Eisenberg led the praise for the trailer, saying, "Though the preview didn't feature any epic battles or hordes of orcs, what it lacked in action it more than made up for with beauty and an insane amount of nostalgia". The Washington Post's Jen Chaney offered, "Visually and tonally, this preview for part ... looks like a perfect match for the Frodo Baggins tales that released in 2001, 2002 and 2003".
Freeman, whose previous credits include BBC comedy The Office and television series Sherlock Holmes, was the surprise choice to play Bilbo Baggins when the announcement was made in October 2010. In a statement at the time, director Jackson said there had "only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us". The movie is slated for release on December 14, 2011, with the second part, titled There and Back Again, to hit screens one year later.