New Line has signed deals with Peter Jackson and his Lord Of The Rings screenwriting team Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens to collaborate with Guillermo del Toro on the screenplay adaptations of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and its sequel.

Del Toro will shoot simultaneously. Principal photography has been tentatively set for a late 2009 start, with the aim of releasing The Hobbit in 2011 and its sequel in 2012.

New Line will handle the North American release and will co-produce, co-finance and co-distribute the films with MGM, which will take care of international distribution.

The films will revisit Middle Earth, where the young hobbit Bilbo undertakes an adventure with Gandalf to recover a hoard of treasure, whereupon he discovers the One ring.