Image Credit: Nick Wall/WireImage.comTolkien aficionados, movie lovers, fans of small, furry-footed humanoids, and nerds of every persuasion have been salivating for years over any tiny morsel of gossip and speculation regarding the big-budget adaptation of The Hobbit. Now, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, comes the encouraging news that the first installment of The Hobbit, which Guillermo del Toro is on board to direct, has indeed been scheduled by Warner Bros. for release in December 2012, with the concluding installment to come in December 2013. (Some Hobbit-watchers may have been thrown into a panic earlier when IMAX mistakenly suggested the first movie would come out in 2013.) Now, granted, there is no firm start date for production yet — the screenwriting team, including del Toro and The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson — is still toiling away on the script. But any Hobbit news is good Hobbit news, right?

What do you think, PopWatchers? You’ve waited this long — can you hold out until 2012?

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