Other than the summer months, the holiday season is often home to many of the year’s most successful and highly-anticipated film releases. This year, of course, is no different, with box office bait like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained either in theaters or on the way in the coming weeks.

One film that’s on everyone’s minds, though, is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in director Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy to his Lord of the Rings films. With its release still over a month away, fans have been quenching their Tolkien thirst with one piece of marketing material after another, from TV spots to character posters.

Now, thanks to Comic Book Movie, we have our first look at some new images. Among them are a glimpse of the goblins of the Misty Mountains, another look at a troll that will appear in the film and a wide shot of The White Council.

As one would expect with Jackson behind the lens, the character and landscape designs look to be very much in keeping with the style of Lord of the Rings. The goblin calls to mind the trilogy’s orcs, featuring the wide eyes and distorted facial features that made those creatures so memorable in the early films. Meanwhile, the troll bears some resemblance to the cave troll that the Fellowship faced off against in the Mines of Moria in the first film. However, this version will likely benefit from the advances in CGI that have taken place in the last decade.

Considering that the same creative team is onboard, The Hobbit should prove a welcome return to Middle-Earth for moviegoers, and if advanced sales are any indication, the film may give 007’s Skyfall a literal run for its money at the box office.

Upon the release of Hobbit tickets on Fandango, according to Deadline, the film comprised 33% of total sales in its first day of availability. That’s a dramatic increase from the 15% it earned earlier in the week for overall online sales, when it was outpaced by both Skyfall (65%) and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (17%).

Those numbers – while impressive – are largely underscored by the fact that Fandango is already the largest online ticket seller. At Movie Tickets.com, for instance, The Hobbit was responsible for just under 5% of sales. Both Breaking Dawn and Skyfall remained the big sellers, with 23% and 59%, respectively. Still, for a film that is over a month from release, The Hobbit‘s sales are very encouraging.

Such enthusiasm for the film’s release isn’t particularly surprising. For the part of a decade, the Academy Award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy has been hailed as one of cinema’s greatest achievements. However, its prequel has faced more than its fair share of production obstacles, including a lengthy legal battle and directorial change-ups. If nothing else, this response indicates that the film will be just as much the box office behemoth as its predecessors.

Do you think The Hobbit can match or exceed the box office takes of The Lord of the Rings films?

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on December 14, 2012.

Source: Comic Book Movie, Deadline