In what is only a plus for Tolkien fans around the world, Warner Bros. and the new MGM announced today that the latter company would now handle marketing and distribution of both of the "The Hobbit" films in every market. 

While both companies are splitting the films' rumored $500 million budget, WB will now be compensated for tackling worldwide distribution.  MGM will continue to handle international television licensing for the films.  The change was made once MGM exited from bankruptcy and effectively ended their own marketing and distribution domestically or worldwide.  The studio is eventually expected to form a new partnership to distribute it's previously completed features ("Red Dawn," "The Cabin in the Woods") and the upcoming 23rd James Bond feature.

By having one company take control of the film's marketing specifically, it will allow for a more cohesive worldwide campaign even with both companies involved in the process.

As most fans of Middle Earth know by heart, "The Hobbit" will be directed by Peter Jackson from screenplays by Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.  The entire saga will be shot in and presented in Digital 3-D.

The two "Hobbit" features are expected to begin filming next month in New Zealand. "The Hobbit, Pt. 1" will release sometime in Dec. 2012 with "Pt. 2" hitting theaters a year later in 2013.