The highly-anticipated return to Middle Earth that is The Hobbit kicks off production this June, as was rumored and is now confirmed, thanks to the website of one Knight of the British Empire, Ian McKellan.  Thanks to the gentle people of ComingSoon for sounding the horns on this.

For those who don’t know, The Hobbit is being split into two films, which will be shot where all the cool kids shoot their films (New Zealand) over the next year or so, with  Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Blade II) sitting in the director’s chair.   The actor’s website had this to say:

THE HOBBIT’s, two films, start shooting in New Zealand in June. Filming will take over a year. Casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started. The script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth.

Who’s joining McKellan for The Hobbit, you ask?

We know that McKellan will reprise his role as Gandalf, possibly joined by (as if you Screen Rant readers need a reminder) Hugo Weaving (Lord Elrond), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) and Andy Serkis (Gollum).

Guillermo del Toro got help penning the script based on the Tolkien novel from the triumvirate of Phillipa Boyens, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, who all worked together on The Lovely Bones and King Kong. Jackson, of course, was the architect of the big-screen adaptation of Tolkien’s sequel to The Hobbit, the now epic Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Hobbit: Part 1 will hit the theaters and rule the world in 2012.  Just when we think it’s time to throw out our huge rubber feet, The Hobbit: Part 2 will descend upon us in December of the same year.

Sources: ComingSoon & Ian McKellan’s Webiste