Nearly a decade has passed since movie fans have been able to visit director Peter Jackson’s vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the fictional setting of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now that the first installment in the filmmaker’s trilogy of films based on Rings prequel The Hobbit  – titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – is just days from release, anticipation is understandably at a fever pitch.

As if fans needed an incentive to line up for (arguably) this season’s most anticipated film, it’s already been announced that a new trailer for next summer’s Man of Steel will premiere with the film, and now folks who show up for midnight IMAX screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will receive an additional treat when they arrive at the theater.

Fans who just can’t wait till morning to see Tolkien’s tale come to life will receive a set of four exclusive character posters – and thanks to Superhero Hype – we have our first look at them.

What’s most striking about these posters – which feature Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and Gollum (Andy Serkis) – is how much they resemble the sketches that ran during the end credits of The Return of the King. Just as with those earlier images, these majestic-looking drawings really play up the mythic element of Bilbo’s adventure.

Frodo’s portrait from ‘The Return of the King’

The studio’s decision to run with familiar faces for the majority of the posters is also a good decision, as it helps to lure in Lord of the Rings fans who may be unfamiliar with the story of The Hobbit. Gollum and Gandalf in particular are fan-favorite characters, and their inclusion here serves as an effective bridge to the trilogy moviegoers know and love.

As stated, these collectible posters are only available at midnight screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in IMAX. For more information on where it’s playing near you, visit the official IMAX website.

Are these posters worth checking out the film at midnight in IMAX? Or do you already have your tickets, Screen Rant readers? Let us know in the comments.

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

Its sequels, The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again, will be released on December 13, 2013 and July 18, 2014, respectively.

Source: Superhero Hype