Bilbo Baggins and company may finally get a start date as Warner Brothers, New Line, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios are finally approaching a greenlight for the project after years and years of starts and stops.

"The Hobbit," is a beloved children's book by author J.R.R. Tolkien that was published in 1937. It's follow up books, "The Lord Of The Rings" were made into incredibly successful trio of films that were released in three consecutive years beginning in 2001. "The Hobbit's" titular character, Bilbo Baggins, appears briefly in the series played by Ian Holm. The role is likely to go to Martin Freeman, last seen in "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy"

People close to the project have told the LA Times, that Warner Brothers and its subsidiary New Line are ready to put in their half of the money, but are waiting on cash-strapped MGM to come up with its half of the bargain. Warner and New Line are no strangers to Middle-earth, having produced the epic "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy and control the domestic rights to "The Hobbit." MGM has long held half of the rights to the story, and would own the international distribution, but has been out of money for more than a year as it's debt holders try to figure out how to reorganize the storied studio.

Peter Jackson, who produced, directed and co-wrote "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy will do the same for "The Hobbit," after Guillermo Del Toro gave up the director's position due to the continuing delays of the project. Although it is one novel, "The Hobbit" will be released as two films, but will be shot all at once to the tune of $500 million dollars. Production was supposed to take place in New Zealand, but this was called into question last week due to union complaints, in an open letter Jackson threatened to take the production elsewhere.

And yet things seem to be drawing to a close and unless things go horribly wrong, all issues are expected to be settled in time to begin production in January of next year in order to hit a holiday 2012 release. The second film is planned for same time the following year. Millions of fans of the books and the "Ring Trilogy" films wait with baited breath for Bilbo to emerge victorious.