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    It's a Wrap! The Hobbit Finishes Shooting—but Can It Top The Lord of the Rings?

    Martin Freeman, The Hobbit New Line Cinema

    Peter Jackson's unexpected journey is almost coming to an end.

    The Oscar-winning director has revealed that he and his crew have now completed principal photography on The Hobbit, the eagerly anticipated follow-up to his awards-hogging The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    The saga, which will unspool in two parts, was shot back-to-back with the first flick, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, hitting theaters this December.

    So how long did the shoot take?

    MORE: The Hobbit Controversy: Peter Jackson Previews the Film, so Why Are Some Fans So Upset?!

    Just under nine months!

    Jackson announced the news on his Facebook page, writing, "We made it! Shoot day 266 and the end of principal photography on The Hobbit."

    He also gave props to the production team, before whetting fanboys/girls' appetites: "Thanks to our fantastic cast and crew for getting us this far, and to all of you for your support! Next stop, the cutting room. Oh, and Comic Con! Cheers, Peter J."

    The saga, which follows Bilbo Baggins' early adventures, has been shooting on location and in soundstages around New Zealand, and the director has giddily been chronicling the film's progress through video blogs posted on the film's official website.

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    Sherlock star and The Office (U.K.) alum Martin Freeman is on board as Bilbo, while The Lord of the Rings players Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett are also set to return.

    Expectations are running astronomically high for The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings trilogy collectively racked up an astounding 17 Oscar wins and grossed a staggering $2.8 billion worldwide.

    Jackson stirred up some controversy this past spring after previewing footage that showcased the movie's cutting-edge technology, which some fans derided for its videolike quality.

    The film was literally an unexpected journey for Jackson, who at the last minute had to step in as director after original helmer Guillermo Del Toro dropped out.

    The first installment arrives in theaters on Dec. 14, while the second part, titled The Hobbit: There And Back Again, drops in December 2013.

    PHOTOS: Flick Pics—The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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