For months, industry buzz has centered on how Warner Bros. plans on marketing Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" more to families than the previous "Lord of the Rings" films.  Of course, "Rings" drew in tons of families and fans of all ages, but New Line's campaign at the time generally centered on the novels' epic and dramatic themes.  The primary goal was for audiences to take the world of Middle Earth seriously.  The "Lord" films would take you on a grand adventure, but there were dark and serious consequences at every turn. J.R.R. Tolkien's predecessor to the "Rings" books, "The Hobbit," has its scary moments, but was a little, well, lighter.  Warner Bros., MGM and New Line released the latest and perhaps final trailer for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" this morning and that broader tone is starting to seep through.

It helps, of course, that Warner Bros. doesn't have to sell audiences on taking Middle Earth seriously.  Ian McKellen's Gandalf is instantly recognizable as are elves (Helloooo Cate Blanchett!) and hobbits (even if some fans may be wondering where Frodo is).  And, while he may be cleaned up a bit in this earlier tale Gollum is still pretty much Gollum.  So, Warner Bros. has taken this opportunity to peeper their new preview with comic moments even while providing the scope you've come to expect from Jackson's vision.  And, just to make sure the tone isn't too different than the "LOTR" series, Gandolf and Elrond are around to provide some foreshadowing moments of fear (honestly, does Elrond do anything else in these films? I kid...).

Legitimate questions still remain whether Peter Jackson and crew can duplicate the Oscar success they experienced with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy with a "Hobbit" trilogy, but this new trailer is another indication that making Middle Earth the family friendly destination of choice over the holidays is the primary goal.  Are both objectives mutually exclusive?  We'll find out as awards season progresses.

You can watch the new trailer embedded at the top of this post.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opens nationwide, in 3D and in IMAX on Dec. 14.